Energy & Environment

Coons says White House could impose border fee for carbon-intensive products

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) expressed confidence to reporters Wednesday that the White House could impose a border tax on carbon-intensive products even if Coons is not successful in adding it to the Democratic reconciliation package.

“I think so,” Coons told press when asked whether the Biden administration could impose a so-called border carbon adjustment on its own. The Delaware Democrat had earlier said he believed such a tax would work best when passed legislatively alongside a carbon fee.

As to whether the Biden administration could “impose an additional price on carbon, I don’t see that mechanism right now,” Coons said.

“But in a series of recent meetings with Canadian leadership, with German leadership, with EU leadership, I’ve discussed the urgency, the importance of a border carbon adjustment system, or approach that would bring together at least those countries,” Coons added.

The Delaware senator, considered one of the Senate’s climate hawks, made the remarks Wednesday following a press conference in which he and several other Democratic senators called for the social spending package’s climate provisions to be preserved.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who is a key vote on the package, has repeatedly objected to energy and environmental aspects of the bill, including the Clean Electricity Payment Program, which would have implemented financial incentives for electric utilities to transition to renewable energy. The program was confirmed to be removed from the Senate package this fall. The West Virginia Democrat has also expressed reservations about provisions such as a methane fee and a tax credit for electric vehicle manufacturers that use union labor.

Manchin met with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to discuss the bill’s energy provisions earlier this week.

“The different energy stuff is what we mostly talked about. Just basically looking at different things that we agree [on] and adjustments that need to be made,” Manchin told reporters after the meeting Tuesday.

Tags border carbon adjustment Build Back Better Act Carbon tax Chris Coons Chuck Schumer climate and social spending package Joe Manchin

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