A Carbon Fee Can Help Fund Infrastructure Improvements

Desperate to put legislative points on the scoreboard by year’s end, congressional leaders have decided to enact a tax overhaul that loads another $1.0-1.5 trillion on an already spiraling national debt. So the initial opportunity for a debate about how carbon revenue could supply that new revenue appears to have passed.

The next opportunity to promote a carbon fee could be a bill to invest in the nation’s ailing infrastructure. No one doubts the need to make such investments. The U.S. currently has a D+ on the American Society of Civil Engineers’ infrastructure report card, and ASCE estimates that all levels of government will have to invest an additional $2 trillion over the next decade if we’re going to avoid falling further behind. The ASCE grades infrastructure in 16 interconnected categories, including the energy grid and our water systems. All are vitally important if our economy is to remain healthy and if we are to compete with other nations.

Both parties have voiced support for investing in infrastructure. The America Wins Act, recently introduced by Representative John Larson (D-CT), would put a fee on carbon to generate $1.8 trillion over 10 years to underwrite vital infrastructure projects. That makes sense, since a carbon fee could generate many times the total revenue generated by a gas tax increase, while impacting consumers less.

President Trump has expressed support for infrastructure investment many times and even declared an “Infrastructure Week” in June. After an October meeting of congressional Republicans and Trump administration officials, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) told The Hill that lawmakers have not yet "gotten to the point where we’re actually working on language," but added "we’ll start releasing things as soon as we get taxes behind us."

If you agree that a carbon fee is the most sensible way to fund infrastructure, please tell your representatives in Congress. Republicans will get on board with a climate-related policy if – and only if – they hear from from business leaders and other constituents. Find your representative’s contact information here.