A bipartisan group of lawmakers from Florida, Pennsylvania, and Maryland have announced a new bill that would charge fossil fuel companies a fee on each ton of carbon dioxide they emit. The legislation would be the first bipartisan carbon tax legislation introduced in Congress in a decade, The Hill reported.
Under the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, energy companies would be required to pay $15 for each ton of carbon their products emit, with the price per ton increasing by $10 every year. Sponsors of the bill, which will be introduced this week, say it will reduce U.S. CO2 emissions by one-third in 10 years and 90 percent by 2050 compared to 2015 levels. The carbon tax would also prevent 13,000 pollution-related deaths in the United States annually and would create 2.1 million new jobs by the end of the first decade, proponents say.
After administrative costs, all the revenue from the carbon tax program would be distributed by the Treasury Department back to American taxpayers to help offset the increased cost of fossil fuels. Its sponsors are Republican Representatives Francis Rooney of Florida and Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, and Democratic Representatives John Delaney of Maryland and Ted Deutch and Charlie Crist of Florida.
According to The Hill, the bill would also prohibit the federal government from regulating emissions from sectors that pay the carbon tax, unless the taxes aren’t effective at cutting greenhouse gases after 10 years.
Policy experts acknowledge that the bill, introduced in a lame-duck session of Congress, has little chance of passage, but they say it could spark discussion about new climate legislation after Democrats take control of the House in January. The new legislation also comes on the heels of two new reports from the Trump administration and the United Nations warning of the significant financial, environmental, and public health impacts of climate change over the next century if greenhouse gas emissions aren’t drastically reduced in the next few years.
“If we don’t act now, we are nearing a point of no return when it comes to the environment, when it comes to our health and when it comes to our economy,” Deutch told reporters. “With the introduction of this bill, we are taking a monumental step forward in showing our colleagues and the country that there is a bipartisan solution to climate change.”