Stefani Reynolds

Outgoing GOP Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Chris Coons (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.

“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.

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 Trump 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 Rooney (R-Fla.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), John Delaney (D-Md.) and Charlie Crist (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.

“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.

Tags Brian Fitzpatrick Charlie Crist Chris Coons Donald Trump Francis Rooney Jeff Flake John Delaney Ted Deutch

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