Energy & Environment

Lawmakers consider carbon border tax, environmental reviews at bipartisan climate meeting

A bipartisan group of lawmakers weighed policies relating to a tariff on imports from countries that contribute to climate change and environmental reviews that Republicans have long called too onerous during a meeting on climate and energy issues. 

On Monday, a group of about a dozen lawmakers from across the ideological spectrum met to discuss the issues in what Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) described as “getting everyone together on some ideas … on how we can all work together.”

“We want to make sure that we have the reliability that fossil has given us and can continue to give us and must continue to give us as we basically promote and invest in the new technologies and innovation that’s going to take us to the next level,” he said. 

According to Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), the ideas discussed included “where we’re going to get our minerals, how we’re going to get them processed, the NEPA review process as you think about building renewable facilities and the challenges we face.”

NEPA refers to the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires environmental reviews of major projects, including energy infrastructure, but also other construction such as highways. 

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) said he promoted a carbon border adjustment, an import tariff on products from countries that may have less stringent climate regulations. 

“Right now the current system incentivizes countries like China and India and Vietnam to not pay attention to emissions because you can produce a good cheaper by not paying,” Cassidy said. “But if we had a border carbon adjustment, it would help our workers, help our industry, incentivize them to do it right.”

“This is about national security. Right now, we’re losing jobs, we’re losing industry and China’s economy’s getting stronger,” he said. “A carbon border adjustment reverses that.”

In addition to Republicans, the meeting included Democrats who are both more moderate, such as Sen. Mark Kelly (Ariz.) and more progressive, such Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.).

The meeting came a week after a previous meeting that was attended by only one Republican, Sen. Kevin Cramer (N.D.), but organized by Manchin and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). 

Murkowski, who attended this week’s meeting, did not attend the prior one due to flight issues, according to spokeswoman Karina Borger.

The talks come as Democrats’ push for climate action through a reconciliation bill remains uncertain. Democrats have called for policies including tax credits for clean energy and electric vehicles and an incentive program aimed at reducing methane emissions from oil and gas production. 

Last week, Manchin appeared to say that his bipartisan push did not mean climate policies would be removed from reconciliation. 

​​“No, no, no. … People we’re talking to are as concerned about having reliable energy as they are about making sure that we do it better than anyone does it in the world, so climate’s going to be a big factor,” Manchin said when asked if the effort means that climate should come out of reconciliation. 

But he also said “he knows on energy that I’m working with a group trying to find a bipartisan way that we want to move forward,” referring to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). 

Tags Bill Cassidy Joe Manchin Mark Kelly Mitt Romney Ro Khanna

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