Virginia Democrat adds his support to Green New Deal

Virginia Democrat adds his support to Green New Deal
© Greg Nash

Democratic Rep. Don Beyer (Va.) is throwing his support behind the progressive climate change vision known as the Green New Deal, and he thinks a carbon tax should be its driving policy.

“A Green New Deal would use major infrastructure investments and policy changes to rapidly shift the U.S. economy towards clean energy solutions and away from greenhouse gas emissions in a way that grows employment in the green economy. This is an idea whose time has come, and I fully support it,” Beyer said in a statement to the Hill Friday.

“I believe that the scientific reports issued in recent months make it unequivocally clear that we need ambitious ideas to address climate change very urgently.”

The lawmaker, who will soon sit on the House Ways and Means Committee — the chief tax-writing panel — said he hopes to use his new seat to push ambitious climate change policies to address global warming and the need to shrink carbon emissions.

To do so, he’s looking to promote a bill he previously introduced that would limit carbon emissions and create a trading program.

“I think a smart way to help drive that transition would be to create an economic mechanism that would rapidly elevate wind, solar and other clean energy and phase out carbon pollution while minimizing the negative effects on American families,” Beyer said.

Beyer introduced the Healthy Climate and Family Security Act last year with 36 Democratic co-sponsors. Sen. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Manafort sentenced to total of 7.5 years in prison Hillicon Valley: Google takes heat at privacy hearing | 2020 Dems to debate 'monopoly power' | GOP rips net neutrality bill | Warren throws down gauntlet over big tech | New scrutiny for Trump over AT&T merger Trump faces new scrutiny over AT&T-Time Warner merger MORE (D-Md.) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

Under the bill, the Department of Transportation would cap carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel power plants and create a carbon trading program. Fuel suppliers and processors would have to purchase carbon permits equal to the amount of CO2 they emit from the Treasury, which would auction off the permits. The revenue generated from the auction would then be distributed back to U.S. households in the form of a dividend as a type of stimulus, according to the bill.

“I have just been appointed to the Ways and Means Committee, which would have jurisdiction over any carbon pricing legislation. I plan to use that appointment to push for legislative solutions to climate change, including ideas expressed in a Green New Deal,” Beyer said.

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers introduced a similar carbon pricing bill at the end of last year’s congressional session.

That bill, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, announced by two Republicans and three Democratic members, 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 go back to taxpayers.

Beyer joins a chorus of at least 45 Democratic members who have pledged to support the Green New Deal, a climate change initiative that aims to fight carbon emissions by transitioning the country to 100 percent renewable energy use.

Supporters have varied in the ways they seek to address the main tenets of the deal. Some freshman House lawmakers, specifically progressive powerhouse Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezDemocratic Socialists of America endorses Sanders for president Ocasio-Cortez: Green New Deal 'narratives are manipulated' by critics Trump: Green New Deal 'the most preposterous thing' and 'easy to beat' MORE (D-N.Y.), pushed to see lawmakers address the deal through a select committee.

House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiThe Hill's Morning Report — Washington readies for Mueller end game Dem divisions deepen over approach to climate change 2020 Dems avoid this year's AIPAC conference MORE (D-Calif.) ultimately decided against a committee focused solely on the Green New Deal, and instead announced a Select Committee on Climate Crisis would be formed.

Democratic House lawmakers have promised to discuss policy vehicles to address climate change in most individual committees.