This week can be summed up In the words of Rep. Carlos Curbelo, “Every journey begins with a first step.”
This week’s must read: A conservative case for a carbon tax by Brad Polumbo (Washington Examiner) “If the conservative ethos really includes conservation, then Republicans have a moral and ethical responsibility to view climate change the way we view the national debt and take steps to address it not just keep consuming carbon irresponsibly and leave later generations to live with the consequences.”
This week’s must watch: ICYMI, Curbelo’s carbon tax bill, explained:
This week’s must listen: Reading Republicans on climate, a decade after America’s cap and trade collapse. Featuring Alex Bozmoski, this episode of the podcast The Interchange delves into how to reach conservatives, how to categorize Republican lawmakers on climate, and why convincing politicians may not be as hard as it might seem. “If we had 100 people in 50 of the right congressional districts phoning their support for climate leadership, I have no doubt that Congressman Curbelo would experience a rush of enthusiasm for his bill and quite possibly for amending his bill,” Alex says in the discussion with Stephen Lacey.
First GOP-led climate bill in ten years: Rep. Carlos Curbelo introduced the MARKET CHOICE Act (H.R. 6463), a bill which “captures the political energy of the moment by not only seeking to drastically reduce carbon emissions, but also funding much-needed infrastructure modernization in our country.” Motivated by the dramatic climate impacts he sees in his Florida district and a desire to break through the “depressing paradigm of bipolar politics,” Curbelo has frequently distinguished himself as a climate leader in his three terms in office, but the MARKET CHOICE Act marks his boldest action to date. The team at republicEn.org applauds Curbelo and bill co-sponsor Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick from Pennsylvania, who called the measure a “science-driven approach to fund infrastructure and address climate change.” As the week progressed, Curbelo also picked up delegate mate Rep. Francis Rooney as a cosponsor.
The MARKET CHOICE Act: how it works
The MARKET CHOICE Act would swap a $24/ton tax on carbon emissions for elimination of the regressive gasoline tax. Seventy percent of the revenues generated from the carbon taxestimated at $700 billion over ten yearswould be directed to the Highway Trust Fund, which is used to pay for infrastructure projects. Ten percent of the revenues would go to states for grants to low-income families and five percent would be directed toward chronic coastal flooding mitigation and adaptation projects. As long as the carbon tax is meeting emissions goalsand resulting reductions are projected to exceed the U.S. commitment made in the Paris Climate Agreementthe measure would impose a moratorium on EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gases. However, in 2025, if emissions goals are not met, the moratorium would terminate, providing a backup plan to ensure effectiveness. It’s border adjustable, meaning it would impose a “border tax adjustment” on imported goods in amount equal to increased costs paid by comparable U.S. products. The bill would also establish a National Climate Commission directed to prepare a report to Congress in 2026 and every six years thereafter with analysis of existing policies and recommendations for reducing emissions.
In his own words: “I truly believe that one day this bill, or legislation similar to it, will become law.”
“The easy thing to do these days in politics is to read from the two old scripts,” Curbelo said at the event rolling out his bill. “That’s just unacceptable to me.” At a time when local and state GOP leaders, not to mention the rising generation of Republican leaders are swimming upstream against the stale hoaxer rhetoric, Curbelo rejects the narrative that Republicans don’t care about the environment. “Any time you take a bold step or file a meaningful proposal, there are risks associated with that. But if I’m not taking risks, I don’t want to be in Congress. I’m not here to pass the time. I think the challenges that we face are too great and too grave to just take a pass.” Pointing out that “major priorities for every Member of Congress can be found in this legislation,” Curbelo found an angle that should “spark an important debate about investing in our country’s infrastructure, the way we tax and what to do to protect the environment.”
“I remind my conservative colleagues who often decry our nation’s growing debt; saddling young Americans with a crushing environmental debtmeaning an unhealthy planet where life is less viableis at least as immoral as leaving behind an unsustainable fiscal debt.”
To read the rest of our analysis and praise, click here.
In other news (yes, there was other news): Delivering the keynote address at the ninth annual Energy, Environmental and Ocean Leaders Days, Alaska’s Sen. Lisa Murkowski, co-founder of the bipartisan Senate Oceans Caucus and chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, called herself someone “who believes very strongly that we must do more when it comes to reducing our levels of emissions in our country and around the globe.” Describing the climate impacts she’s seen in her home state, such as loss of sea ice, permafrost and glaciers, she said: “climate change is not some hypothetical. It is not some theory out there. It’s not something that can be ignored. We, in the Arctic, are on the front lines.”
“I don’t care how many miles of coastline you have, big or small, the fact is that our oceans are this common connector here,” she said of the event.
(I will never get bored of this picture of Murkowski hugging a salmon.)
Just say climate change: More than 40 lawmakers sent a letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis asking him to keep intact mentions of climate change in Department of Defense reports and also to ensure that strategic defense plans acknowledge the effects of climate change on national security. “While we appreciate the need to update reports when it is appropriate and necessary, we are disturbed that the revisions may have intentionally targeted mentions of climate change,” reads the July 16th letter. “The facts are clear: climate change poses a threat to the Department and the nation.” GOP members Rep. Elise Stefanik, Rep. Carlos Curbelo, Rep. John Faso, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, Rep. Dave Reichert, Rep. John Katko, and Rep. Ryan Costello signed the letter. Defense Secretary Mattis has acknowledged the threats posed by climate change and pushed for sustainable adaptation measures. The Defense Department has yet to publicly respond to the lawmakers. But Ros-Lehtinen responded to our tweet on this story and we thrive on connecting with our EcoRight heroes.
Signing off from Acadia National Park, where cell service made it difficult at times to watch ‘this week in the carbon tax’ unfold live, but the lobster is delicious and the waters calm.