How to Balance the books on carbon: Polluter pays

A group of Democratic Congressmen and Senators released draft legislation today aimed at putting a price on carbon. They call it a discussion draft, so be sure to let them know what you like and don’t like about the proposal.

For background, check out our 2009 eBook, The Climate Bill: A Field Guide. The eVolume includes just about everything on the official record (transcripts of committee hearings and floor debate, the recorded vote, and the full text of the humongous bill) from the American Clean Energy Act of 2009, which passed the House but was never taken up in the Senate.

March 11 ~ House Committee on Energy & Commerce

Today, Representative Henry A. Waxman, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Representative Earl Blumenauer, and Senator Brian Schatz released draft carbon-pricing legislation and solicited feedback on it from stakeholders and the public. The legislation would establish the polluter pays principle for dangerous carbon pollution, requiring large emitters to pay for the pollution they emit.

The “discussion draft” released today contains a new and straightforward approach to putting a price on carbon pollution. The nation’s largest polluters would have to pay a fee for each ton of pollution they release. The legislation assigns responsibility for the assessment and collection of the carbon fees based upon the expertise that has already been developed by EPA and the Treasury Department. Under the discussion draft, EPA’s database of reported emissions would determine the amount of pollution subject to the fee. The Treasury Department would be responsible for the collection and handling of the fees.

“Putting a price on carbon could help solve two of the nation’s biggest challenges at once: preventing climate change and reducing the budget deficit,” said Rep. Waxman of California. “There have been carbon tax proposals made by others. What’s unique about this one is its novel design. We are seeking to craft a system in which each agency does what they are good at and that minimizes compliance burdens and administrative costs. Utilities, oil companies, and other major sources are already reporting their emissions to EPA. We build off of this existing program.”

“Putting a price on carbon is the best way to reduce carbon pollution and slow the effects of climate change,” said Sen. Whitehouse of Rhode Island. “For far too long, carbon polluters have pushed the true cost of their pollution onto the American people in the form of dirty air, acidified water, and a changing climate. This framework is the beginning of a collaborative process to craft legislation that will reduce carbon pollution while also upholding an important principle: that all of the revenue generated through this carbon fee will be returned to the American people.”

via Waxman, Whitehouse, Blumenauer, and Schatz Release Carbon Price Discussion Draft | Committee on Energy and Commerce Democrats.

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