Imagine EPA’s Clean Power Plan as a punching bag hanging from the ceiling at the local gym. On October 30 it absorbed blows from a Wall Street Journal editorial, which charged that the agency is playing games with the timetable. The opening paragraph uses phrases such as “President Obama’s palace revolution on climate” and his “takeover of the carbon economy.”
Four days later, the Energy and Power Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved two resolutions that call for deep-sixing the Clean Power Plan. Michigan Congressman Fred Upton, who chairs the full committee, said, “Affordable and reliable electricity in our country is under assault. The resolutions considered today represent an important part of this committee’s longstanding and ongoing efforts to protect jobs and affordable energy from this administration’s expansive regulatory agenda.”
Meanwhile, half the states are in federal court in hopes of blocking the plan. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt says the plan “unlawfully coerces states into shuttering fossil-fuel generated electricity,” and that “Oklahoma is pursuing all available legal options to roll back” what he calls “a financially disastrous” EPA rule.
Maybe you disagree with such criticism. But it’s mighty clear that this opposition is passionate and could derail the Clean Power Plan, which is the centerpiece of the federal government’s effort to meet goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
What, then, might convince congressional critics, primarily Republicans, to do something about climate change? We have met with 175 senators and representatives, or their aides, to test an idea. Our hypothesis was that a package that includes a carbon fee with half the proceeds going toward a reduction in the corporate tax rate and half to citizens with low or moderate incomes could bring members of the two main parties together. After our extended round of conversations on the Hill, we have concluded that this approach has real promise. It provides a boost to GDP and protects domestic industry.
We were also encouraged by a September survey by three GOP pollsters. It found that public opinion has evolved to the point that most Republicans have concluded that climate change is real and that humans have something to do with it. GOP voters want their party to act, and most would support a carbon tax if the proceeds are rebated.
Others who support a carbon tax or fee include ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, IMF chief Christine Lagarde, World Fund President Jim Yong Kim, and the economist just elected to chair the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: Hoesung Lee.
Anyone who wants to see our nation do its part to tackle global warming--and provide global leadership--should take a close look at the carbon fee/corporate tax rate reduction concept we have developed. We think it’s the fastest, most promising way to make progress. Until we try something creative like this, the Clean Power Plan will continue to absorb punches.