Senate freshmen Dems call for carbon cap

Their call for a “polluter pays” approach to climate change echoes that of Democratic leaders looking to strike a deal on a first-time carbon-pricing program focusing on electric utilities.

Environmental groups and electric utility companies have been meeting to try to reach a consensus that could be used by Senate Democratic leaders as a way to attract centrists in both parties. 

The Senate freshmen do not specify the scope of a carbon cap but they do address concerns that have been raised by manufacturers and other major industrial electricity consumers about a utility-focused plan raising their production costs and sending jobs overseas.

They seek legislation that offers tax incentives and other financial aid “to help American manufacturers create jobs, cut their energy consumption, retool for a clean energy economy and remain competitive in the global market.” This also includes job training programs and recognizing the role of rural and agricultural communities. 

Perhaps reflecting the regional diversity of the 12 senators, their letter to Reid is light on specifics and full of general goals that legislation should include.

This includes a federal mandate that “results in a meaningful increase in renewable energy production,” along with incentives for other types of “clean energy technologies.” Republicans and some Democrats want a federal renewable electricity production mandate to include existing and future nuclear production and cleaner uses of coal.

They also seek “a clear target” for reducing foreign oil dependence that could be achieved through investments in electric vehicles, alternative transportation fuels and expanded rail transportation.

“Recent tragedies in the Gulf and West Virginia have highlighted that we pay a heavy price for our dependence on fossil fuels,” the 12 Democrats wrote. “While fossil fuels are and will continue to be an important part of our economy, we believe the transition to a clean energy economy — one that includes an all-of-the-above approach — is an economic, national security and environmental priority.”

The 12 Senate Democrats on the letter are Mark UdallMark Emery UdallDemocrats will win back the Senate majority in 2020, all thanks to President Trump Poll: Trump trails three Democrats by 10 points in Colorado The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy MORE (Colo.), Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallSenate confirms Trump's nominee to lead FDA Overnight Defense: House passes compromise defense bill | Turkey sanctions advance in Senate over Trump objections | Top general says military won't be 'raping, burning and pillaging' after Trump pardons Senate panel advances Turkey sanctions bill despite Trump objections MORE (N.M.), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenOvernight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — House passes sweeping Pelosi bill to lower drug prices | Senate confirms Trump FDA pick | Trump officials approve Medicaid work requirements in South Carolina Senate confirms Trump's nominee to lead FDA Senate panel advances Turkey sanctions bill despite Trump objections MORE (N.H.), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyMcConnell says he's 'honored' to be WholeFoods Magazine's 2019 'Person of the Year' Overnight Energy: Protesters plan Black Friday climate strike | 'Father of EPA' dies | Democrats push EPA to abandon methane rollback Warren bill would revoke Medals of Honor for Wounded Knee massacre MORE (Ore.), Mark BegichMark Peter BegichAlaska political mess has legislators divided over meeting place Former GOP chairman Royce joins lobbying shop Lobbying world MORE (Alaska), Roland Burris (Ill.), Ted Kaufman (Del.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandAdvocacy groups decry Trump's 'anti-family policies' ahead of White House summit This bipartisan plan is the most progressive approach to paid parental leave Bombshell Afghanistan report bolsters calls for end to 'forever wars' MORE (N.Y.), Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerTikTok chief cancels Capitol Hill meetings, inflaming tensions Watchdog report finds FBI not motivated by political bias in Trump probe Ex-Rep. Scott Taylor to seek old Virginia seat MORE (Va.), Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetYang: 2020 rivals in Senate should be able to campaign amid impeachment Trump trade deal likely to sow division in Democratic presidential field Schumer to colleagues running for White House: Impeachment comes first MORE (Colo.), Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenLankford to be named next Senate Ethics chairman The job no GOP senator wants: 'I'd rather have a root canal' Take Trump literally and seriously in Minnesota MORE (Minn.) and Kay Hagen (N.C.).

Many of them reside on key panels that have jurisdiction over climate and energy policy or otherwise have been involved in the efforts so far to draft a strategy Reid wants on the floor later this month. While they represent a fairly diverse caucus, perhaps only Begich has been considered a possible swing vote in the overall debate.