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 UdallThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy Colorado candidates vying to take on Gardner warn Hickenlooper they won't back down Democrats hope some presidential candidates drop out — and run for Senate  MORE (Colo.), Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallDemocrats, environmentalists blast Trump rollback of endangered species protections Republicans should get behind the 28th Amendment New Mexico says EPA abandoned state in fight against toxic 'forever chemicals' MORE (N.M.), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenSunday shows - Recession fears dominate Lewandowski on potential NH Senate run: If I run, 'I'm going to win' Lewandowski says he's 'happy' to testify before House panel MORE (N.H.), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleySenate Democrats push Trump to permanently shutter migrant detention facility Senate Dem seeks answers from DHS on reports of pregnant asylum seekers sent back to Mexico Schumer backs Pelosi as impeachment roils caucus 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 Elizabeth GillibrandGillibrand: Rosy economic outlook not 'reflected in everyday, kitchen-table issues families are facing' Chris Wallace becomes Trump era's 'equal opportunity inquisitor' Steve King to Gillibrand: Odds of me resigning same as yours of winning presidential nomination MORE (N.Y.), Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerFacebook users in lawsuit say company failed to warn them of known risks before 2018 breach New intel chief inherits host of challenges Overnight Defense: US, Russia tensions grow over nuclear arms | Highlights from Esper's Asia trip | Trump strikes neutral tone on Hong Kong protests | General orders ethics review of special forces MORE (Va.), Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetThe Hill's Campaign Report: Battle for Senate begins to take shape The Hill's Morning Report — Recession fears climb and markets dive — now what? Hickenlooper expected to end presidential bid on Thursday MORE (Colo.), Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenNative American advocates question 2020 Democrats' commitment Reid says he wishes Franken would run for Senate again Al Franken urges Trump to give new speech after shootings: 'Try to make it sound like you're sincere, even if you're not' 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.