Senator Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) said there is growing bipartisan support to establish a carbon price to hold fossil fuel companies accountable, even as Democrats and Republicans battle over the inclusion of crucial climate measures in the infrastructure bill and budget reconciliation package.
Cardin told Yahoo Finance that lawmakers from both parties now regard carbon pricing as a “essential aspect of the U.S. climate plan” for reining in the country’s top greenhouse gas polluters.
“I think there should be a price associated with carbon emissions because of the cost of remedy,” Cardin said. “We can come together on a climate agenda and taxing carbon is one of the areas that brings us together.”
The urgency of putting a price on carbon has been heightened by a recent assessment from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which blames human activity for global warming. The nearly 4,000-page research stated that climate change impacts are so severe that global temperatures and warming effects will only worsen over the next three decades, regardless of climate mitigation efforts taken.
To discourage the use of fossil fuels, a carbon tax puts fines on enterprises that emit greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide. The burden is meant to fall mostly on oil and gas industries, with the proceeds going toward clean energy and pollution reduction.
‘Putting a price on carbon’
However, critics fear that the fines will result in greater fees for customers, putting a strain on low- and middle-income families. According to the Tax Policy Center, a $40 per ton tax would add 36 cents to the price of a gallon of gasoline and 2 cents to the average price of a kilowatt-hour of electricity.
Although President Biden hasn’t ruled out a tax to achieve broader climate targets, White House officials have openly stated that they want a clean electricity standard to minimize emissions.
“The president has said that no one under $400,000 will pay additional taxes. I think we all support that. So, it’s a little bit challenging as to how we design the build to carry that out,” Cardin said. “But putting a price on carbon is an important step forward to recognize what carbon is doing to our environment”
Support for carbon pricing from the fossil fuel industry has only added to the skepticism. In March, the industry’s largest trade group, the American Petroleum Institute endorsed market-based pricing of emissions, marking a dramatic shift after years of resisting regulations. In May, a lobbyist for Exxon Mobil (XOM) was recorded on video, saying the oil giant only supported a carbon tax “as an easy talking point” and an “advocacy tool.”
“Nobody is going to propose a tax on all Americans, and the cynical side of me says, yeah, we kind of know that. But it gives us a talking point that we can say, well, what is ExxonMobil for? Well, we’re for a carbon tax,” said Keith McCoy, a senior director in Exxon’s government affairs team, in a conversation with Greenpeace. He reiterated on tape, “A carbon tax is not going to happen.”
Democrats, led by Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen, have already introduced legislation requiring the largest U.S.-based fossil fuel extractors and oil refiners, as well as foreign-owned companies doing business in the United States, to pay into a climate fund based on a percentage of their global emissions.
With less than two months until the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, the United States is under increasing pressure to increase climate action as the world’s second largest producer of greenhouse gases.
“We’re trying to get America to understand and be at the forefront of leadership to transition us to an energy source that will help us deal with our environment,” Cardin said. “It’s good for our economy. It’s good for our national security.”
Source: Yahoo News