Senators Barbara Boxer (D-California) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) are expected to unveil their version of a carbon tax today.
But the legislation won’t be like anything that’s been considered before.
Called “fee and dividend,” the legislation is an unusual variant on a carbon tax. It would impose a fee on carbon emissions at their source, such as coal mines, raising the price of fossil fuel energy.
But instead of giving the proceeds to the government, three-fifths of the money would be refunded to U.S. residents.
Such rebates could run into hundreds of dollars. The idea is modeled loosely on Alaska’s “permanent fund” that distributes royalties from the state’s oil and gas industry to every Alaskan resident.
The bill’s chances in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives probably aren’t good. But in light of President Obama’s State of the Union address earlier this week, where he basically told Congress that if they don’t pass a market-based solution to climate change, he’ll let the Environmental Protection Agency take action, the House might be slightly more receptive.
Environmental groups have already begun praising the legislation. I got the following via email from Earthjustice, attributed to Marty Hayden, Earthjustice Vice President for Policy & Legislation:
“We commend Senators Sanders and Boxer for introducing legislation that puts a price on carbon pollution, eliminates fossil fuel subsidies and invests in efficiency and renewable energy.
The momentum is building to meaningfully address this problem as more and more Americans recognize the threat of living in a world where climate change continues unabated. Drought, wildfire and more frequent and intense storms threaten lives and literally cost Americans billions of dollars.
We are pleased to see Senators Sanders and Boxer leading the charge on legislation to tackle climate change in a comprehensive manner. All parts of our government, Congress and the Administration, have a moral responsibility to do their part to address climate change to protect current and future generations.”