Climate Week En Review, August 2, 2019
Happy August! While this is typically a brutally hot and humid month in the DC area, we're inching close to the best season, fall... when the leaves turn and kids go back to school and sweaters come out of hiding. Unless we screw it all up by not getting a grip on this warming problem... more on that below.
This week's must read: Is there a windfall in climate change for PE (Forbes) We recommend you dive into this article on the impacts climate change will have on private equity. "According to [Rep. Bob] Inglis, the world of private equity will move rapidly to invest in energy innovation when the U.S. begins pricing carbon dioxide. When that's finally done, says Inglis, the economics will help all kinds of projects become profitable," the article reads. "To hear experts like Inglis talk about it, once billions of people see the true cost of energy, corporations and consumers will look for ways to save money and find energy efficient alternatives to all manner of goods and services." I'm partial to this quote from Bob: "I'm not interested in protecting 'buggy-whip industries...Innovation and investment will create new jobs."
Spotlight on the EcoRight: Our South Carolina spokesperson Rouzy Vafaie strikes again in the Charleston City Paper. "As a member of the EcoRight, I'd like to say thank you Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez for scaring the bejesus out of my party." he writes. "Until recently, the Republican Party lacked senior elected leadership to tackle this issue that Democrats had a monopoly on. Well, thanks to the Congresswoman's introduction of the 'Green New Deal,' I believe some members of my party woke up."
Graves changing face of GOP on climate: Louisiana Rep. Garret Graves, who after much wrangling with leadership earlier this year for "a better way to apply Republican principles" to climate change now serves as the top ranking Republican on the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, was profiled in the New Yorker last week. "People are awakening," he says in the interview, noting the awakening is slow. "Raise the words 'climate change' or 'global warming,' and everyone goes to their corners." In contrasting how he might approach his climate message with people ideologically right of center versus left, he emphasizes the importance of "meeting people where they are." In a recent hearing on the business costs of climate change, he remarked: "This is a key issue that we must aggressively address... Let's be clear — the status quo, what we have done historically for decades is absolutely inappropriate. It doesn't properly prioritize, it is not the process that responds to the urgency that we're facing. As you well know, we can reduce, as we've had witness after witness testify before this committee, we could cut all emissions from the United States today, every bit of emissions, and we're going to continue to see changes in our weather. We're going to continue to see seas rise."
This week's must listen: Turn up the volume on this chat Bob had on The Big Picture with Oliver Knox in Idaho. "We've got a solution that works with our values and that's what we've got to talk about."
The Far Middle catching on: In testimony last week, our spokesperson Nick Huey called for a "far middle" to counter the far left and the far right on climate change. His idea is catching on, as evidence by this Salt Lake Tribune letter to the editor. "Utahns must be part of the solution, as effective action will need to occur at multiple levels of society," the author writes. "Utah can lead from the Far Middle on climate."
Carbon tax bills abound: We are in the luxurious position of having multiple carbon tax bills floating around Washington, DC, including two sponsored by Florida's Rep. Francis Rooney, enough to make the EcoRight jump for joy. But how to distinguish between them? Especially given, in what Niskanen Center appropriately calls "a signal of bipartisan goodwill," Rooney and Illinois Democrat, Rep. Dan Lipinski co-sponsored each other's carbon tax measures, introduced on the same day. Having a hard time keeping track? We've broken out the basics for you.
The Stemming Warming and Augmenting Pay (SWAP) Act, which would cut carbon emissions by approximately 42 percent by 2030 while using the revenue to reduce the payroll tax burden on Americans. This bill would:
- Assess on fossil fuel producers and large industrial emitters a fee of $30/metric ton of CO2 equivalent with an annual increase of five percent plus inflation. For every two years that emissions reductions are behind goals, an automatic $3 per ton increase will be charged.
- Use 70 percent of net revenue raised to reduce individual, employer, or self-filing payroll taxes amounting to a nearly one percent cut in the total payroll tax rate.
- Distribute ten percent of net revenue to social security beneficiaries.
- Use the remaining 20 percent of the revenue to establish a carbon trust fund designated for state block grants used to offset higher energy costs for low-income households, and advanced research and development programs on climate adaptation and energy efficiency.
This proposal also places a 12-year moratorium on Clean Air Act regulations that can be removed if emissions targets are not met.
By contrast, the Raise Wages, Cut Carbon Act looks familiar to us. Once the baby of former Rep. Bob Inglis, Lipinski reintroduced this carbon tax bill, which would impose a fee starting in 2020 of $40 per ton of CO2. Like the SWAP Act, the tax would:
- Increase by 2.5 percent plus inflation for every year that the United States does not meet emissions reduction targets, thereby allowing the price to gradually adjust based on market signals until emissions reduction targets are met.
- Return revenue generated to Americans via a payroll tax cut and an increase to social security benefits for beneficiaries.
- Direct one percent of revenues to the Weatherization Assistance Program and five percent to the Low-Income Home Energy Program to help offset increased energy prices for the most vulnerable.
On the Senate side of Capitol Hill, Senator Chris Coons reintroduced the bill he co-sponsored with former Senator Jeff Flake, who retired at the end of the last Congressional session. The Climate Action Rebate Act of 2019, would start greenhouse gas fees at $15 per metric ton of carbon and gradually increase the fee over time. The fee would be returned to Americans as a dividend.
Carbon tax advocate and former Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo noted, "not just rank and file from moderate districts, but leading Republicans, senior Republicans are stepping out on the issue, making it clear that the debate should be over solutions, not over science or anything else of that nature, and for me it's a sign of real progress." We'll take it!
Latergram: We missed a great quote from Rep. Dan Crenshaw in last week's post, so I'm bringing it to you now, courtesy of super ally Jim Tolbert.
Glad to see @RepDanCrenshaw leading on #ClimateChange solutions from #Texas - calling out "the greatest innovation machine the world has ever known", the USA. #EcoRighthttps://t.co/Gfbq6vyzyg pic.twitter.com/r8IbB7kdDq
— Jim Tolbert (@JimTolbertNC) July 26, 2019
Have a great weekend, EcoRighters.