Carbon Tax: Curbelo’s Market Choice Act is the first GOP climate solutions bill in a decade

  • Published on July 24th, 2018

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.

Carbon Tax: Curbelo's Market Choice Act is the first GOP climate solutions bill in a decade: By Chelsea Henderson
RepublicEn

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.”

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.
  • Fifteen percent of the revenues would go to states for grants to low-income families
  • Five percent would be directed toward chronic coastal flooding mitigation and adaptation projects.

As long as the carbon tax is meeting emissions goals—expected to be more stringent than 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.

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 debt—meaning an unhealthy planet where life is less viable—is at least as immoral as leaving behind an unsustainable fiscal debt.”

In our words: best thing since sliced bread

Curbelo has been a frequent star of the EcoRight News page for his ongoing efforts to break through the political logjam of climate denial. Making progress in Washington is often described as running a marathon, not a sprint, and with the MARKET CHOICE Act, Curbelo is showing Olympic levels of grit, will, and stamina.

Ten years ago, it wasn’t uncommon for GOP lawmakers to lead on climate solutions; Sen. John McCain even ran on his climate record in 2008. But as the tone has grown more partisan, many conservatives abandoned the conservation legacy left by Teddy Roosevelt and also left their seat at the environmental negotiations table, ceding an important set of issues to the left.

Curbelo has been fighting to regain that seat and to lead on an environmental agenda. By bringing forward a climate solutions bill based on conservative principles, by recruiting “unusual suspects” to join the discourse provided by the House Climate Solutions Caucus, by not backing down on what’s best for his district. he is setting an example for courageous leadership.

“Every journey begins with a first step,” Curbelo said. The MARKET CHOICE Act is a giant leap in the right direction, and Rep. Carlos Curbelo is the kind of leader America needs—and deserves.

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(Re-posted from republicEn.org, an organization committed to growing U.S. conservative climate leadership.)

About the Author

republicEn.org is an organization committed to growing U.S. conservative climate leadership. Members of republicEn are conservatives, libertarians, and pragmatists of diverse political opinion. We stand together because we believe in American free enterprise. We believe that with a true level playing field, free enterprise can deliver the innovation to solve climate change. But America's climate policy needs to change. Change requires that conservative leaders step-up and lead. Climate change is real and we believe it's our duty and our opportunity to reduce the risks. But to make a difference, we have to fight climate change with free enterprise instead of ineffective subsidies and regulations.