After Hearing the Pope, Congress Should Put a Price on Carbon

WASHINGTON, DC -- Today, Walt Minnick, former Congressman and co-founder of Partnership for Responsible Growth, released the following statement in advance of the Pope's address to Congress. 

"As the Pope prepares to address Congress, let’s hope that Members of Congress are ready to listen—and take action.  Expect that he will challenge our country to lead the world in tackling a challenge that threatens to impact every person on the planet: climate change.

"Most serving in Congress now believe that climate change is real and that people play a role.  So why then, isn’t Congress doing anything about it and at what point does it become too late for them to act? The cheapest and fastest solution, one which would be better than a regulatory approach, would to put a fee on carbon emissions. If business speaks up, it can pass muster in Congress.

"In Alaska President Obama repeatedly said, “We’re not acting fast enough” to avert potentially catastrophic consequences. A revenue-neutral carbon fee would enable us to pick up the pace and keep average temperature increases to levels most scientists say are manageable.  The fee would be fueled by the power of the marketplace. If carbon intensive products cost more, Americans will cut their consumption. It’s just common sense.

"Congressman John Delaney (D-MD), a former business executive, has recently introduced a carbon fee bill. So have Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Brian Schatz (D-HI). Others have as well.

"A carbon fee works. British Columbia has had one since 2008. It has reduced fossil fuel consumption by 16 percent, while use in the rest of that country has risen by 3 percent. Meantime, British Columbia’s GDP growth has outperformed Canada’s. A U.S. carbon fee would go global if coupled with a border tax adjustment on imports from countries that don’t match us. Our trading partners would decide to impose their own carbon fees rather than have their exporters pay it us at our border.

"The proceeds of a fee would be sizable, and Congress would have a number of options in allocating that money. We suggest that about half of the revenue be used to bring the corporate tax rate down from 35 percent (the highest in the industrialized world) to 25 percent, enhancing our competitiveness and to keep companies and jobs from moving overseas.  The balance of the revenue should be returned to low- and low-middle-income families.

"A Papal address to Congress is a historic event. We in America want our elected leaders to make history, too."

The Partnership for Responsible Growth is a 501(c)(3) nonpartisan organization that supports a free-market approach to combating global climate change. It was created in 2014 by three business executives and political leaders. 

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