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Flake to co-introduce bipartisan climate bill

Outgoing GOP Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeCindy McCain on possible GOP censure: 'I think I'm going to make T-shirts' Arizona state GOP moves to censure Cindy McCain, Jeff Flake Arizona county's Republican committee debates censuring Cindy McCain MORE (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsSenate Democrats leery of nixing filibuster Security concerns mount ahead of Biden inauguration Trump impeachment collides with Biden's agenda 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 TrumpFacebook temporarily bans ads for weapons accessories following Capitol riots Sasse, in fiery op-ed, says QAnon is destroying GOP Section 230 worked after the insurrection, but not before: How to regulate social media 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 RooneyGrowing number of House Republicans warm to proxy voting Lawmakers express concern about lack of young people in federal workforce The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Today: Vaccine distribution starts, Electoral College meets. MORE (R-Fla.), Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickGrowing number of GOP lawmakers say they support impeachment GOP lawmakers introduce resolution to censure Trump over Capitol riot Kinzinger says he'll vote to impeach Trump MORE (R-Pa.), Ted DeutchTheodore (Ted) Eliot DeutchHouse Democrats introduce measures to oppose Trump's bomb sale to Saudis House Judiciary Democrats ask Pence to invoke 25th Amendment to remove Trump This week: Congress poised to buy more time on spending, coronavirus talks MORE (D-Fla.), John DelaneyJohn DelaneyCoronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Rep. Rodney Davis Eurasia Group founder Ian Bremmer says Trump right on China but wrong on WHO; CDC issues new guidance for large gatherings The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas says country needs to rethink what 'policing' means; US cases surpass 2 million with no end to pandemic in sight MORE (D-Md.) and Charlie CristCharles (Charlie) Joseph CristLawmakers introduce bill to award Capitol Police officer Congressional Gold Medal Lawmakers share New Year's messages: 'Cheers to brighter days ahead' Florida Democrat introduces bill to recognize Puerto Rico statehood referendum 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.