Spotlight on Market Choice Act, champion Curbelo
July 24, 2018
On Monday, for the first time in nearly ten years, GOP members introduced a climate solutions bill. Amid a rising sense of climate urgency and increasingly partisan rancor, Rep. Carlos Curbelo stepped forward to offer the MARKET CHOICE Act (H.R. 6463), a bill which "captures the political energy of the moment by not only seeking to drastically reduce carbon emissions, but also funding much-needed infrastructure modernization in our country." Motivated by the dramatic climate impacts he sees in his Florida district and a desire to break through the "depressing paradigm of bipolar politics," Curbelo has frequently distinguished himself as a climate leader in his three terms in office, but the MARKET CHOICE Act marks his boldest action to date.
The team at republicEn.org applauds Curbelo and bill co-sponsor Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick from Pennsylvania, who called the measure a "science-driven approach to fund infrastructure and address climate change." Florida's Rep. Francis Rooney also co-sponsored the bill.
The MARKET CHOICE Act: how it works
The MARKET CHOICE Act would swap a $24/ton tax on carbon emissions for elimination of the regressive gasoline tax. Seventy percent of the revenues generated from the carbon tax—estimated at $700 billion over ten years—would be directed to the Highway Trust Fund, which is used to pay for infrastructure projects. Ten percent of the revenues would go to states for grants to low-income families and five percent would be directed toward chronic coastal flooding mitigation and adaptation projects. As long as the carbon tax is meeting emissions goals—and resulting reductions are projected to exceed the U.S. commitment made in the Paris Climate Agreement—the measure would impose a moratorium on EPA's regulation of greenhouse gases. However, in 2025, if emissions goals are not met, the moratorium would terminate, providing a backup plan to ensure effectiveness. It's border adjustable, meaning it would impose a "border tax adjustment" on imported goods in amount equal to increased costs paid by comparable U.S. products. The bill would also establish a National Climate Commission directed to prepare a report to Congress in 2026 and every six years thereafter with analysis of existing policies and recommendations for reducing emissions.
Learn more about this bill in republicEn's short video explainer:
In his own words: "I truly believe that one day this bill, or legislation similar to it, will become law"
"The easy thing to do these days in politics is to read from the two old scripts," Curbelo said at the event rolling out his bill. "That's just unacceptable to me." At a time when local and state GOP leaders, not to mention the rising generation of Republican leaders are swimming upstream against the stale hoaxer rhetoric, Curbelo rejects the narrative that Republicans don't care about the environment. "Any time you take a bold step or file a meaningful proposal, there are risks associated with that. But if I'm not taking risks, I don't want to be in Congress. I'm not here to pass the time. I think the challenges that we face are too great and too grave to just take a pass." Pointing out that "major priorities for every Member of Congress can be found in this legislation," Curbelo found an angle that should "spark an important debate about investing in our country's infrastructure, the way we tax and what to do to protect the environment."
"I remind my conservative colleagues who often decry our nation's growing debt; saddling young Americans with a crushing environmental debt—meaning an unhealthy planet where life is less viable—is at least as immoral as leaving behind an unsustainable fiscal debt."
In our words: legacy potential
Curbelo has been a frequent star of the EcoRight News page for his ongoing efforts to break through the political logjam of climate denial. Making progress in Washington is often described as running a marathon, not a sprint, and with the MARKET CHOICE Act, Curbelo is showing Olympic levels of grit, will, and stamina. Ten years ago, it wasn't uncommon for GOP lawmakers to lead on climate solutions; Sen. John McCain even ran on his climate record in 2008. But as the tone has grown more partisan, many conservatives abandoned the conservation legacy left by the likes of former presidents George H. W. Bush and Teddy Roosevelt and also left their seat at the environmental negotiations table, ceding an important set of issues to the left. Curbelo has been fighting to regain that seat and to lead on an environmental agenda. By bringing forward a climate solutions bill based on conservative principles, by recruiting "unusual suspects" to join the discourse provided by the House Climate Solutions Caucus, by not backing down on what's best for his district. He is setting an example for courageous leadership.
Bob Inglis summed it up like this: "It's ingenious to address infrastructure, tax equity and climate change all in one fell swoop. Rep. Curbelo has addressed all three, and it really is quite impressive. Necessity is the mother of invention, and the representative of a district on the front lines of climate change has shown himself very inventive, indeed."
"Every journey begins with a first step," Curbelo said. The MARKET CHOICE Act is a giant leap in the right direction, and Rep. Carlos Curbelo is the kind of leader America needs—and deserves.