Thursday, March 14, 2013

Comments Wanted On Dems Draft Carbon-Pricing Legislation

Mar 12: Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA), Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), and Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) released draft carbon-pricing legislation and are soliciting feedback on it from stakeholders and the public. The legislation would establish the polluter pays principle for dangerous carbon pollution, requiring large emitters to pay for the pollution they emit.

    According to a release, the "discussion draft" released today (March 12) contains a new and straightforward approach to putting a price on carbon pollution. The nation's largest polluters would have to pay a fee for each ton of pollution they release. The legislation assigns responsibility for the assessment and collection of the carbon fees based upon the expertise that has already been developed by EPA and the Treasury Department. Under the discussion draft, EPA's database of reported emissions would determine the amount of pollution subject to the fee. The Treasury Department would be responsible for the collection and handling of the fees.

    Rep. Waxman said, "Putting a price on carbon could help solve two of the nation's biggest challenges at once: preventing climate change and reducing the budget deficit. There have been carbon tax proposals made by others. What's unique about this one is its novel design. We are seeking to craft a system in which each agency does what they are good at and that minimizes compliance burdens and administrative costs. Utilities, oil companies, and other major sources are already reporting their emissions to EPA. We build off of this existing program."

    Sen. Whitehouse said, "Putting a price on carbon is the best way to reduce carbon pollution and slow the effects of climate change. For far too long, carbon polluters have pushed the true cost of their pollution onto the American people in the form of dirty air, acidified water, and a changing climate. This framework is the beginning of a collaborative process to craft legislation that will reduce carbon pollution while also upholding an important principle: that all of the revenue generated through this carbon fee will be returned to the American people."   

    Specifically, the discussion draft outlines a legislative framework that would:

  • Establish a carbon pollution fee that applies to all six categories of greenhouse gases.
  • Require large carbon pollution sources to pay the fee for carbon pollution permits based on the quantities of carbon pollution reported by the sources under the EPA's Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule.
  • Create a program to be jointly administered by the Department of the Treasury and EPA. EPA would implement and enforce emissions reporting under EPA's Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule, and Treasury would assess, collect, and enforce the fee requirements at the point where carbon pollution is emitted or passed on to consumers, depending on the type of source.

    The Members indicate that the approach would: Drive significant carbon pollution reductions; Generate substantial revenue to be returned to the American people; and, Provide broad coverage of greenhouse gas emissions, while minimizing compliance and administrative burdens and utilizing each agency's area of expertise.

    The Members are soliciting comments on the discussion draft from stakeholders and the public. Although comments on any aspect of the draft are welcome, the Lawmakers are specifically requesting feedback on the following questions and requesting that comments be submitted no later than April 12, 2013:

1. What is the appropriate price per ton for polluters to pay?  The draft contains alternative prices of $15, $25, and $35 per ton for discussion purposes.
2. How much should the price per ton increase on an annual basis?  The draft contains a range of increases from 2% to 8% per year for discussion purposes.
3. What are the best ways to return the revenue to the American people?  The discussion draft proposes putting the revenue toward the following goals, and solicits comments on how to best accomplish each:  (1) mitigating energy costs for consumers, especially low-income consumers; (2) reducing the Federal deficit; (3) protecting jobs of workers at trade-vulnerable, energy intensive industries; (4) reducing the tax liability for individuals and businesses; and (5) investing in other activities to reduce carbon pollution and its effects.
4. How should the carbon fee program interact with state programs that address carbon pollution?

    Access a release from the Members with links to a 1-page summary; a section-by-section summary; a backgrounder; and the draft bill text  (click here). Submit comments to the following Email address: (click here). [#Climate, #Air/GHG]

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