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Flake to introduce carbon tax legislation to address climate change: report

By: - December 19, 2018 3:05 pm

U.S. Senator Jeff Flake speaking at the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s 2016 Capitol Hill Update. Photo by Gage Skidmore | Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Not content with bucking the Republican Party for its support of Donald Trump, U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake will introduce carbon tax legislation, The Hill reported today.

Although there is broad consensus in the scientific community that climate change is real and presents a danger to the U.S., polling has long shown that Republican voters don’t believe human-caused climate change is a serious problem and that they oppose efforts to limit carbon emissions, including carbon taxes.

In 2016, the Republican Party wrote opposition to a carbon tax into its platform.

The Hill noted that Flake’s bill, which will be co-sponsored by Delaware Democrat Sen. Chris Coons, is a companion to bipartisan legislation introduced last month in the House of Representatives.

The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act would charge $15 for each ton of carbon emitted into the air and would increase that fee by $10 every year afterward, in an effort to fight climate change. Other than administrative costs, all of the money would be given back to taxpayers in a dividend– a payout lawmakers hope will act as a stimulus.

In a notable difference from the House bill, the Senate’s bill would aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions quicker, by 40 percent within six years, and 91 percent by 2050, according to a source familiar with the bill.

The House bill set a timeline of 10 years.

Both are a bigger cut than former President Obama’s Clean Power Plan and the United States’s commitment under the Paris climate agreement — a pact President Trump has promised to exit.

Because the bill is being introduced with only two weeks left before the end of the year, it will not receive serious consideration this session. However, with Democrats taking control of the House in January, The Hill explained that carbon tax legislation is likely to be considered next year “and will likely be a major marker of where lawmakers in both the House and the Senate from both parties can agree on tackling climate change.”

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Jim Small
Jim Small

Jim Small is a native Arizonan and has covered state government, policy and politics since 2004, with a focus on investigative and in-depth policy reporting, first as a reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times, then as editor of the paper and its prestigious sister publications, the Yellow Sheet Report and Arizona Legislative Report. Under his guidance, the Capitol Times won numerous state, regional and national awards for its accountability journalism and probing investigations into state government operations.