Republican Introduces Carbon Tax Proposal

July 28, 2018

A brave Republican breaks the carbon barrier with a carbon tax proposal.

Not everyone loves it.


On Monday, for the first time in nearly ten years, GOP members introduced a climate solutions bill. Amid a rising sense of climate urgency and increasingly partisan rancor, Rep. Carlos Curbelo stepped forward to offer 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 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.” Florida’s Rep. Francis Rooney also co-sponsored the bill.

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 tax—estimated at $700 billion over ten years—would 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 goals—and resulting reductions are projected to exceed the U.S. commitment made in the Paris Climate Agreement—the 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.

Huffington Post:

So things should be looking up for Curbelo and his proposed bill (even though it’ll likely be overwhelmingly rejected). But a closer look at the legislation dispels any notion this bill would have the kind of impact necessary to stave off climate change’s worst impacts and alter the course of climate disruption; it misuses taxation as a powerful incentive on behavior change necessary to the transformation of the transport sector.

First, Curbelo’s carbon tax comes at the cost of the federal excise tax on gas, meaning that federal revenue will be reduced by $35 billion in 2020 and by $24 billion in 2030. This wouldn’t necessarily have a devastating financial impact after accounting for the incoming revenue from the carbon tax; however, research out of Columbia University shows during this time period, GDP would decrease, electricity prices would increase and energy expenditures per capita would increase.

Up to 70 percent of Curbelo’s carbon tax revenue is dedicated to updating existing infrastructure like roads, bridges or highways. Yes, U.S. infrastructure is in dire need of repair ― this isn’t news. But channeling the vast proportion of this tax’s revenue to infrastructure that prioritizes fuel-based transportation, while offering only a tiny portion of it to decarbonizing the transport sector, is one step forward and several miles back.

In a quid pro quo sleight of hand, this legislation also comes at the cost of gutting most of the Clean Air Act, which is aimed at improving air quality and controlling pollution both from stationary sources and from motor vehicles, by proposing a temporary performance-based moratorium on enforcing its regulations should the goals of the bill be met. And though the bill suggests vulnerable populations, like the poor and workers in affected sectors, are amongst the proposed legislature’s main beneficiaries (which links the social and economic impacts of climate change to harmful emissions), the reference is ultimately so brief and vague in its description, it’s almost meaningless.




4 Responses to “Republican Introduces Carbon Tax Proposal”

  1. dumboldguy Says:

    “The MARKET CHOICE Act: how it works”. It WORKS???? BWA-Ha-Ha-Ha!!!!!

    The Huffington Post gets it—“….one step forward and several miles back”. It’s just more Repugnant bullshit—-if this is the best thy can do, we are NEVER going to make it.

  2. grindupbaker Says:

    Meanwhile our new guy just repealed the carbon tax, cancelled incentives for wind turbines and visited the command centre for wild fire Parry Sound 33 (95 km west of me). That’s a busy day.

    • grindupbaker Says:

      Ironically, I see that Henvey Inlet First Nation construction crews installing wind turbines have apparently caused this forest fire with an equipment accident.

  3. indy222 Says:

    “Brave Republican”? Huh? If you read this proposal, including the stripping of legal rights to sue for climate negligence, the tiny amounts of cost added to gasoline, the removal of the Federal gasoline tax, and the rest – it’s a sellout.

    I grow weary of the gumby-legged Progressives who try to sound tough with

    Climate Activists: “We need a $100 carbon tax and we demand it now!”,

    Republicans: “Here, we’ll give you $1.49 and not a penny more, and you’ll sign away rights for any more demands”

    Climate Activists: “OK! This is an honorable and bold initiative, dear sir, with full respect to you!”

    The art of the deal indeed. We’re getting snookered for the dupes we are, by all this talk about “respectful communication”.

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