Greg Nash

Two Democratic senators spoke at a conservative think tank Wednesday to introduce legislation to establish a tax on carbon dioxide emissions.

Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) pitched their American Opportunity Carbon Fee Act as a proposal Republicans should be able to get behind due to its simplicity and the fact that the revenues would go back to taxpayers.

It would set a $49 per ton fee, increasing annually, on carbon dioxide emissions, charged at the point of a fossil fuel’s extraction or importation.

{mosads}The money raised — more than $2 trillion over 10 years — would go to a reduction in the corporate tax rate, tax credits to workers and recipients of federal assistance and state block grants.

“The market would begin to work in this space,” Whitehouse said at the American Enterprise Institute event. “This carbon fee would produce meaningful reductions in emissions.”

“The idea is quite simple: unleash markets to tackle climate change,” said Schatz. “It establishes incentives that allow capital to flow and businesses to thrive when they can use clean energy, letting the free market compete and innovate and make profits.”

Carbon taxes have the support of a wide swath of Democrats to fight climate change. Among Republicans, it has been a favored approach for years among certain economists and academics but has gotten little support among policymakers, due mainly to opposition to raising energy prices, along with skepticism of climate change science.

Last year, all House Republicans and some Democrats voted for a nonbinding resolution denouncing carbon taxes as harmful to the economy and promising not to support one.

AEI itself does not make policy endorsements, though some of its scholars favor carbon taxes.

Whitehouse and Schatz said their event is part of a mission to get at least one Republican lawmaker to support the plan.

“Sen. Schatz and I extend an open hand — an olive limb. Find Sen. Schatz and me a Republican to negotiate with. Then, let’s talk about the economics, let’s talk about the revenue,” Whitehouse said.

“Let’s restart the bipartisan conversation.”

Tags Carbon tax Climate change Sheldon Whitehouse

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