Overnight Energy & Environment

Overnight Energy — Presented by the American Forest & Paper Association — Carbon tax bill sparks showdown

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SHOWDOWN OVER CARBON TAX: A moderate Republican lawmaker on Monday proposed instituting a carbon tax, breaking with the party’s long-standing opposition to policies that would punish people and companies that emit gases that cause climate change.

Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), who is running in an extremely vulnerable Florida district that Democrat Hillary Clinton won handily in 2016, wants to repeal the federal taxes on gasoline, diesel and aviation fuels and replace them with a $24 per metric ton tax on carbon dioxide emissions that increases each year.

Who would be hit: The tax would apply to coal mines, fuel refineries, certain manufacturing facilities, natural gas processors and fossil fuel importers. It would increase the costs of fossil fuels and products and services that use them.

Who would gain: The revenues would go to infrastructure, low-income households and climate mitigation projects, among other places.

Curbelo, one of the most vocal current Republican lawmakers on climate change, pitched the proposal as an infrastructure investment program that would also fight global warming.

The legislation “recognizes the cost of carbon dioxide emissions, while at the same time repealing the regressive, discriminatory gas tax, which overburdens Americans who drive traditional vehicles and fails to fully fund our nation’s infrastructure needs,” Curbelo said at a Washington, D.C., event hosted by Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy.

Read more here.



Conservative groups come out firmly against the bill: Conservative groups came out in fierce opposition Monday to Curbelo’s bill that would impose a tax on carbon-emitting companies.

Americans For Tax Reform President Grover Norquist called the bill a political loser.

“Carbon doesn’t pay taxes — families pay taxes, people pay taxes, taxpayers pay taxes,” Norquist said at the National Press Club. “This is just the most recent effort by the left to find a way to get into your pockets.”

Conservatives took turns denouncing the legislation, which would impose a tax on companies that emit gases that contribute to climate change. Opponents highlighted the hundreds of dollars in energy price hikes it could bring to U.S. households.

They also characterized Curbelo as a Republican who is trying to appease Democrats. Curbelo is running for reelection in a congressional district that presidential nominee Hillary Clinton won handily in 2016.

“There is no appreciation to be gained by the real Democrats by pretending to be a Democrat,” Phil Kerpen, president of American Commitment, said of Curbelo. “There’s a Republican consensus against this bill. It’s a bad idea, and any Republican who is tempted to embrace it will see very little friends on both sides of the aisle.”

Read more here.


Happy Monday! Welcome to Overnight Energy, The Hill’s roundup of the latest energy and environment news.

Please send tips and comments to Timothy Cama, tcama@thehill.com, and Miranda Green, mgreen@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @Timothy_Cama, @mirandacgreen, @thehill.


ENDANGERED SPECIES POLICIES STRIPPED FROM DEFENSE BILL: Congress’s annual defense bill won’t include proposed policies to restrict Endangered Species Act protections for certain animals.

Lawmakers negotiating between House and Senate defense authorization bills decided not to keep any of the endangered species provisions that the House had put in its version of the legislation.

The House wanted to block potential endangered species protections for the greater sage grouse and the lesser prairie chicken for 10 years, and to permanently block protections for the American burying beetle.

A House Armed Services Committee GOP aide told reporters Monday that none of the endangered species protections were included in the final National Defense Authorization Act that both chambers will vote on.

“The provisions about endangered species are not in the conference report,” the aide said.

Republicans had argued that the provisions were necessary for military readiness, because species protections would make training and other activities more difficult.

But Democrats, joined by conservationists, fought the endangered species provisions, saying they would be unnecessary and dangerous for the species at hand.

Read more.


TRUMP TO PROPOSE BLOCKING CALIFORNIA’S EMISSIONS STANDARDS: The Trump administration is planning a proposal to block California regulators from enforcing their own emissions standards for vehicles sold in the state.

Bloomberg News reported Monday that the proposal will be part of a regulation the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will jointly propose in the coming days to freeze or reduce federal greenhouse gas emissions and fuel efficiency rules for cars.

The proposal would set up a battle with California over whether the Clean Air Act allows its decades-long aggressive crackdown on car emissions. The fight is almost certain to go to court if the administration pursues it.

The rules have become part of California’s environmental identity, as well as part of its efforts to clean the air in Los Angeles and other heavily polluted areas.

The Obama administration permitted California to set its own greenhouse gas emissions for cars in 2009, giving it a waiver under the Clean Air Act. Numerous other states now follow California’s standards. But under Obama, the EPA and NHTSA decided to negotiate with California so that the country retains one nationwide standard, even though California had the authority to institute its own.

Read more here.



The House Natural Resources committee Tuesday will hold an oversight hearing looking into alternative uses of coal.

The House Energy and Commerce committee the same day will explore a discussion draft of a bill that would aim to authorize the Department of Energy to carry out a program to lease underutilized petroleum research facilities for other purposes.

The House Science, Space and Technology committee will have a markup Tuesday of a bill that would direct all assessments on the toxicity of chemicals be carried out by the program offices of the Environmental Protection Agency.
The House Oversight committee’s subcommittee on the Interior, Energy, and Environment will hold a hearing Tuesday examining the rights to let animals graze on federal land.



AF&PA members make essential products for everyday life—printing-writing papers; paper-based packaging; pulp; tissue; wood products—more sustainably than ever. See our new report tomorrow! www.afandpa.org 



Exxon Mobil said that an offshore oil block near Guyana likely has 25 percent more oil than originally estimated, Reuters reports.

California is on course to approve $2.7 billion in new water infrastructure, including dams and underground storage, KQED reports.

Virginia regulators cited the Mountain Valley Pipeline project for alleged environmental violations for the fifth time, the Roanoke Times reports.



Check out stories from Monday and the weekend …

-Trump officials questioned benefits of national monuments

-Conservatives come out against carbon tax bill from GOP lawmaker

-Trump to propose blocking California’s clean car standards: report

-Japan sees record-breaking temperatures in deadly heat wave

-GOP lawmaker proposes carbon tax

Tags Carlos Curbelo Defense bill emissions Endangered Species Act Hillary Clinton

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