Flake to co-introduce bipartisan climate bill

Outgoing GOP Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeMcSally campaign to suspend TV ads, canvassing amid pandemic Coronavirus isn't the only reason Congress should spend less time in DC Trump Jr. says he inherited 'Tourette's of the thumbs' from his father MORE (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsSenate includes 0M for mail-in voting in coronavirus spending deal Hillicon Valley: Facebook reports huge spike in usage during pandemic | Democrats push for mail-in voting funds in coronavirus stimulus | Trump delays deadline to acquire REAL ID Democrats press for more stimulus funding to boost mail-in voting MORE (D-Del.) introduced a carbon pricing bill Wednesday that aims to help cut climate change causing emissions.

The landmark bill would charge fossil fuel companies a tax for their carbon dioxide emissions. The bill is a companion to legislation introduced by a bipartisan group in the House in November.

The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act would charge $15 for each ton of carbon emitted into the air and would increase that fee by $10 every year afterward, in an effort to fight climate change. Other than administrative costs, all of the money would be given back to taxpayers in a dividend-- a payout lawmakers hope will act as a stimulus.

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"Republicans need to get serious about climate change. That’s why I introduced a revenue-neutral carbon tax bill in the House several years ago," Flake tweeted Wednesday. 

"Today, @ChrisCoons & I have introduced a bipartisan, revenue-neutral carbon tax bill that provides an honest path to clean energy."

According to a final version of the Senate bill, the legislation would aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent within ten years, and 91 percent by 2050.

A key difference in the Senate bill from the House version is that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at any time could intervene to regulate greenhouse gas emissions if the taxes prove to not be effective at cutting emissions--a measure pushed by Coons--according to a source involved in the bill's development.

The House bill on the other hand prohibits the federal government from regulating greenhouse gas emissions from the sectors that are taxed, unless the taxes aren’t effective after 10 years. The time limit was added in an effort to attract support from Republicans, who are nearly united in opposition to EPA climate regulations.

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Both are a bigger cut than former President Obama’s Clean Power Plan and the United States’s commitment under the Paris climate agreement — a pact President TrumpDonald John TrumpPelosi eyes end of April to bring a fourth coronavirus relief bill to the floor NBA to contribute 1 million surgical masks to NY essential workers Private equity firm with ties to Kushner asks Trump administration to relax rules on loan program: report MORE has promised to exit.

Introduced two weeks before Congress ends for the year, the legislation is unlikely to get serious consideration in this session. Flake is set to retire at the end of the year.

But with Democrats ready to take control of the House in January, the bill is poised for potential future consideration and will likely be a major marker of where lawmakers in both the House and the Senate from both parties can agree on tackling climate change.

The House bill was the first bipartisan piece of legislation to put a price on carbon in a decade. House sponsors are Reps. Francis RooneyLaurence (Francis) Francis RooneyLessons from the front line — Florida's fight with sea level rise Overnight Energy: Trump issues rule replacing Obama-era waterway protections | Pelosi slams new rule as 'an outrageous assault' | Trump water policy exposes sharp divides 2 Democrats say they voted against war powers resolution 'because it merely restated existing law' MORE (R-Fla.), Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickDemocrats bullish on bill to create women's history museum: 'It's an election year' This week: Trump's budget lands with a thud on Capitol Hill House approves pro-union labor bill MORE (R-Pa.), Ted DeutchTheodore (Ted) Eliot DeutchOcasio-Cortez knocks Pence: 'Utterly irresponsible to put him in charge of US coronavirus response' Father of Parkland shooting victim calls on Congress to take action Florida 'red flag' law has removed hundreds of guns: report MORE (D-Fla.), John DelaneyJohn DelaneyJohn Delaney endorses Biden Nevada caucuses open with a few hiccups Lobbying world MORE (D-Md.) and Charlie CristCharles (Charlie) Joseph CristBiden rise calms Democratic jitters Mnuchin details IRS challenges with cash-only marijuana businesses Democrats gear up for State of the Union protests as impeachment lingers MORE (D-Fla.).

Deutch, the lead sponsor on the House's version of the bill, said he already plans to re-introduce the legislation next year.

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“When we introduced this legislation in the House, we showed our colleagues that bipartisanship is possible to address climate change and significantly reduce carbon emissions. Thanks to Senator Coons and Senator Flake, we’re now showing the American people that our plan to put a price on carbon and return the net revenue back to the American people has earned bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress,” said Deutch in a statement.”

“I look forward to working closely with Senator Coons and my fellow House sponsors to re-introduce the legislation next year.”

This story was updated at 5:41 p.m.