GOP Can Be Part of Climate Change Solution; Climate Protection Act; Republicans Would Support a Market-Based Solution

Article excerpt

A carbon tax bill that gives revenue back to households? Now were getting somewhere.

Thats what Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) placed on the table when she and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) announced plans to introduce carbon-fee-and-dividend legislation. Their proposal places a fee on coal, oil and natural gas at the first point of sale and then rebates a substantial part of the revenue to the public as monthly dividends, either by check or electronically.

At a press conference to introduce the Climate Protection Act, Boxer said her aim was to get legislation to the floor of the Senate by summer.

What could possibly be better?

How about Republican support?

Without backing from some GOP lawmakers, the bill stands little chance of passage in the Senate, much less the Republican- controlled House. Unless it is bipartisan, any climate legislation no matter its intention amounts to little more than a gesture.

Given President Obamas ultimatum to Congress to cut carbon or I will, the GOP has great incentive to support a market-based solution to the climate crisis. The alternative is expansion of Environmental Protection Agency regulations on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Efforts to block those regulations will prove to be a waste of time and energy, as the U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that the EPA has the authority to regulate carbon dioxide and other pollutants that warm the Earth.

Time and time again, conservatives extol the power of the free market rather than government to make good things happen in our society. Its time, then, for Republicans to walk the talk and embrace a tax on carbon that returns revenue to the public.

Greg Mankiw, economic adviser to President George W. Bush and presidential candidate Mitt Romney, explains the conservative rationale for a carbon tax: Economists have long understood that the key to smart environmental policy is aligning private incentives with true social costs and benefits. That means putting a price on carbon emissions, so households and firms will have good reason to reduce their use of fossil fuels and to develop alternative energy sources.

While Obama wields the hammer that may move Republicans toward legislative action, the Boxer-Sanders bill, in its current form, stands little chance of attracting support from across the aisle. …