ICYMI: Curbelo to Introduce Pioneering Tax Bill to Fund Infrastructure, Fight Climate Change
Florida Republican to Introduce Carbon-Tax Bill
Rep. Carlos Curbelo says plan would replace gasoline tax, generate more revenue for infrastructure
A Florida Republican is set to propose a carbon-tax bill in Congress next week, hoping to generate new traction for climate-change efforts in the face of GOP leadership pushing firmly the other way.
The plan from Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who represents a Miami-area district that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton won in 2016, would replace the federal gasoline tax with a tax on businesses including refineries, power plants and steel mills based on how much oil, coal and other fossil fuels they buy.
Mr. Curbelo, whose coastal district is especially vulnerable to climate change, wants the tax to help lower the carbon emissions that drive climate change. But he also views it as an infrastructure bill—it is crafted to raise additional revenue for bridges, roads and other projects—and as something he can sell as tax reform because it eliminates the gasoline tax. Those pieces may help it appeal to a broader audience in Congress, he said.
“This is designed ambitiously,” Mr. Curbelo said in an interview. “For some it will be a clean energy bill. For some it will be an infrastructure bill. … For others, it will be the bill that saves the planet. And all of those characterizations will be accurate.”
Republican lawmakers have long fought policies designed to address climate change and shown little appetite for any type of carbon tax.
Still, the idea has gained support in some conservative circles. Last year former Secretaries of State James Baker III and George Shultz first proposed a carbon-tax policy that included a dividend for taxpayers. Several large corporations including Exxon Mobil Corp. and Exelon Corp. recently have backed the idea of a carbon tax and have considered funding a political-action committee to promote it.
Mr. Curbelo’s proposal would price carbon at $24 a metric ton and increase that every year by 2% plus the rate of inflation. It replaces the gasoline tax, which Mr. Cubelo frames as a version of tax overhaul. If enacted, his plan would raise an additional $57 billion to $106 billion a year, according to the Columbia analysis.
Most of the extra money would go to infrastructure, which Mr. Curbelo said he hopes will appeal to a presidential administration that has emphasized the importance of infrastructure investment but not pushed federal funding for it.
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