Energy & Environment

Ex-GOP Rep. Ryan Costello joins group pushing carbon tax

Greg Nash

Former GOP Rep. Ryan Costello (Pa.) is signing on to work for a group pushing a business-backed proposal to fight climate change with a carbon tax.

Costello, less than a week out of the House, announced Monday in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece that he’s the new managing director of Americans for Carbon Dividends. The group is the advocacy affiliate of the Climate Leadership Council, pushing a plan by former GOP Secretaries of State James Baker and George Shultz to tax carbon dioxide emissions and return the money to individuals and families on a quarterly basis.

{mosads}Costello, who served two terms representing Philadelphia suburbs as a moderate Republican, said he brings important legislative muscle to the group, which has been targeting the GOP and big businesses since it launched in 2017.

“I want to lean in and have a specific policy proposal that I get behind,” Costello told The Hill.

“I understand the legislative process. I have run many a political campaign,” he said. “Dealing with elected officials across the country, I think, will be seamless for me to do. Creating issue advocacy campaigns, identifying the types of members that might be open to this, and frankly, working on the text.”

His opinion piece squarely targets Republicans in Congress and pushes them to endorse a comprehensive climate policy.

“For Republicans to be the party of the future, we need a plan to protect the future,” he wrote. “With the early impacts of climate change plain for all to see, it is high time for the Grand Old Party to embrace its proud historical legacy of environmental conservation by proposing market-based and forward-looking climate solutions of our own.”

The affiliated groups have garnered attention for pushing Republicans not just to fight climate change, but to back a specific proposal to punish carbon dioxide emitters.

They’ve also gotten attention over who has backed the plan or put big money into the organizations, including Exxon Mobil Corp., ConocoPhillips Co., General Motors Co., PepsiCo and others.

While Costello was on the moderate side of the climate issue in Congress before he decided against running for reelection last year, he thinks he can get more of the GOP onboard.

“The Republican position is that regulations create market uncertainty and oftentimes don’t accomplish the objective. We feel that this is a better way of getting to the objective, which is substantially reducing carbon emissions over the next 10 years, and ultimately getting to a zero carbon footprint,” he said.

Costello is prohibited by congressional ethics standards from lobbying, so his work will focus on other forms of advocacy.

He said one of his main tasks in the coming months will be to help write legislation to implement the carbon tax and dividend plan, with the hopes of a lawmaker introducing it in Congress in the summer.

It’s unlikely, however, to garner the support necessary to pass anytime soon, since the Trump administration and most congressional Republicans show little sign of endorsing such an aggressive climate plan.

Many of the most progressive Republicans on climate left Congress or lost reelection last year, including former Reps. Carlos Curbelo (Fla.) and Scott Taylor (Va.). In fact, nearly half of the GOP members of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus lost reelection or didn’t run last year.

Tags Carlos Curbelo Ryan Costello Scott Taylor
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