Energy & Environment

New details on Republican climate plan show emphasis on trees

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) teased new details about Republicans' forthcoming climate plan Tuesday, highlighting the legislation's focus on trees as a method for capturing carbon pollution.

The Republican effort to develop a climate bill, first reported by The Hill last week, focuses on traditional areas of interest for the party, including spurring green technology innovation and carbon capture.

A summary of the plan, shared with Axios shortly before President Trump's announcement at the World Economic Forum that the U.S. would join the trillion tree initiative, breaks down its reliance on trees as a method for sequestering pollution.

Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.), who is developing the legislation that would commit the U.S. to the goal, told the outlet the plan would "go back to something old for something new and trees are the ultimate carbon sequestration."

Republicans had previously hinted the plan would rely heavily on trees, but it's still unclear just how many Westerman's legislation would require planting.

Other efforts to capture carbon would include an extension and expansion of the 45Q tax credit for businesses that capture carbon during production, including a provision that would extend the tax credit to those able to capture carbon pollution from the air after it is emitted.

Additional details obtained Tuesday by The Hill indicate Republicans plan to continue to develop the proposal through the spring.

However, any eventual plan would not, however, set any targets for reducing carbon pollution. An ambitious plan from the Democrats outlined earlier this month would require the U.S. to rely on 100 percent clean energy by 2050.

Even though Democrats have likewise expressed interest in boosting tree planting as well as green technology, the Republican plan would face an uphill battle in the House as Democrats push forward their own plan with hard targets for carbon reductions.

Environmental groups have already criticized the Republican bill, arguing they were pushing policies they've already thwarted.

"Congressional Republicans and Donald Trump just blocked a package of clean energy tax credits from being included in the year-end tax and budget deal," Sierra Club global climate policy director John Coequyt said in a statement. "That was a serious and limited solution they failed to support, but they are suddenly serious a few weeks later after decades of climate denial."

The Republican plan also builds on other environmental talking points popular within the GOP, including a portion that aims to stem plastic pollution.The proposal would direct foreign aid to help clean up polluted rivers that contribute debris to the ocean. One of the Environmental Protection Agency's chief missions under the Trump administration has been to reduce marine debris such as plastics. 

The proposal will also target agriculture, pushing for farming techniques that reduce or capture carbon. The plan also pushes for better rural broadband access. 

Outbrain