Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo to Introduce Carbon Tax Bill


Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) plans to introduce a bill to tax carbon dioxide emissions next week and will speak at a press conference at 9 AM on Monday, July 23rd, at the National Press Club. Registration information and the link to watch it online are available here.

The event is being hosted by the Niskanen Center (an environmental pressure group) and Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy. Other speakers include Lynn Scarlett of the Nature Conservancy, Nat Keohane from the Environmental Defense Fund, and Jessica Hogle of PG&E Corporation.

Americans for Tax Reform has scheduled a press conference at 11 AM also at the National Press Club to oppose the Curbelo bill. The event will be livestreamed here. Speakers include Grover Norquist and Paul Blair of Americans for Tax Reform, Marlo Lewis of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and Phil Kerpen of American Commitment.

According to talking points on the Curbelo bill, which may be out of date, the bill would eliminate the federal gasoline tax and replace it with a tax on carbon dioxide emissions of $23 per metric ton initially. The tax would increase annually by 2% plus the rate of inflation. In addition, if the emissions reduction goals spelled out in the bill are not being met, there would be an additional $2 added every two years. The key is that the tax would keep going up without Congress ever having to vote again to raise it.

Initially, 70% of the revenue would go to the Highway Trust Fund, 10% to states for grants to low-income households, and 5% to state and local governments to fund projects to mitigate and adapt to coastal flooding. The remainder would be split between energy research and development and assistance to energy industry workers “displaced” by the higher taxes on coal, oil, and natural gas.

Other notable provisions in the bill include the creation of a National Climate Commission, which would report to Congress every six years and set goals for further emissions reductions; credits for carbon tax payments to states, which would decline by 20% each year; and a border tax adjustment for imports and exports.

The bill has an incredibly long name: Modernizing America with Rebuilding to Kick-Start the Economy of the Twenty-first Century with a Historic Infrastructure-Centered Expansion Act. This results in the highly-misleading acronym, MARKET CHOICE Act. It’s really a market-rigging con game, but this is Congress, after all.

Although the bill hasn’t been introduced, the Columbia Center on Global Energy Policy has seen it and already done an analysis of the bill’s impacts on greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption, and the economy. “Don’t believe everything you read” is my advice.