Energy & Environment

Democrat predicts ‘big fight’ over carbon pricing in the Senate

Stefani Reynolds

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) on Wednesday predicted that the Senate would see a “big fight” over carbon pricing but said he believes lawmakers will make progress on the issue this year. 

Carbon pricing, which can raise the cost of fossil energy and give clean energy an edge, is something the White House hasn’t explicitly endorsed, but also hasn’t closed the door on. 

Nevertheless, Whitehouse predicted during a conversation hosted by French Ambassador Philippe Étienne that there will be a major push in the Senate. 

“There may be a very big fight in the Senate on this issue when we get to where the Senate has a role,” he said. 

Asked whether there was a type of carbon pricing bill Senate swing vote Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) would support, Whitehouse said it’s “too early to tell.”

“I think at the end of the day the answer is yes, but we have to get to the end of the day,” he added. 

He said that on the issue he’d watch both the Senate and a global climate summit scheduled for later this year in Glasgow, but ultimately predicted it would be achieved this year. 

“I think we get there once we get through our process, and I think we get there this year, but there’s my optimism right there,” Whitehouse said. 

He added that there’s urgency to take this on now because Democrats have the Senate, the House and the presidency. 

“There are a lot of us in the Senate who really think that this is our political moment. We may not have another chance. If we lose the House, if we lose the Senate, if Biden doesn’t win reelection in 2024,” he said. 

Rather than a carbon price, the White House is endorsing carbon reduction through measures including a clean electricity standard, which would require electricity suppliers to get all their power from carbon-free sources by 2035.

National climate adviser Gina McCarthy told reporters earlier this year that she wouldn’t close the door on a carbon tax, but also stressed that a clean electricity standard is President Biden’s preferred method.  

Tags Gina McCarthy Joe Biden Joe Manchin Sheldon Whitehouse

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