Media buzz about carbon pricing picks up with introduction of Deutch bill

Deutch CCL press conference

Reps. Deutch, Peters, Chu, and Crist spoke in a press conference about the reintroduction of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. CCL’s President Madeleine Para (center) was also invited to speak. Watch the recording of the press conference here.

Media buzz about carbon pricing picks up with introduction of Deutch bill

By Steve Valk

Since the 117th Congress was sworn in earlier this year, CCLers have been waiting eagerly for the reintroduction of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 2307). It turns out, climate reporters and political news outlets were eager for it too!

On April 1, Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL-22) introduced his bill with 28 cosponsors. That same day, coverage of the legislation surfaced in E&E News and The Hill, with CCL getting mentioned in E&E News:

“Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and more than 20 other Democrats announced a revamped ‘Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act,’ which would price carbon emissions and return net revenues to Americans in a periodic check.

It’s best known as the favored legislation of Citizens’ Climate Lobby, the nationwide group that frequently brings volunteers to Capitol Hill to meet with members of both parties on climate change.”

The following Tuesday, Rep. Deutch and three of the bill’s cosponsors held a virtual press conference. CCL’s President, Madeleine Para, was invited to speak alongside those members of Congress. From that press conference came reports in the Washington Examiner, Politico Pro, and E&E News. 

The Politico story — “Democrats hold firm on including carbon pricing in infrastructure talks” — quoted Rep. Deutch, who explained why he introduced the Energy Innovation Act at this time without waiting for Republican sponsors to come on board:

“We’ve been in discussions with several Republicans about the legislation — they haven’t yet signed on as co-sponsors — but we couldn’t wait to reintroduce the bill. We’re confident ultimately there will be Republicans who step up to support this effort…The reason that we’re having this discussion now is to make sure that the price on carbon is a part of these conversations [about climate legislation].”

Later in the week, Nick Sobczyk from E&E News framed the Deutch bill in the context of Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry telling reporters that President Biden supports carbon pricing and “believes that at some point in time, we need to find out a way to have a price on carbon that’s effective.”

The E&E story then brought up the Energy Innovation Act and CCL’s support for it, noting, “Deutch’s bill has vocal backers in the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, the organization known for bringing hundreds of volunteers to Capitol Hill to meet with lawmakers and staff from both parties about carbon pricing.”

On opinion pages, newspapers are pushing for carbon pricing to be included in the upcoming infrastructure package. In an editorial titled “Hey President Biden, where’s the carbon tax?” the Tampa Bay Times said the best hope for limiting global temperature increases this century to 2 degrees Celsius “may be to make it financially painful to pollute and financially advantageous to innovate. In that light, a carbon tax would buoy Biden’s other goals of eliminating fossil fuel emissions from electricity generation by 2035 and making the U.S. economy carbon neutral by midcentury.”

The Washington Post, which has supported a carbon tax for many years, ran an editorial recently saying that a carbon tax could pay for President Biden’s infrastructure proposal. Rep. Ted Deutch quickly responded with a letter saying households needed to be protected from rising energy costs associated with a carbon tax:

“…a carbon tax on its own is regressive and would burden poor and middle-class families by increasing gasoline and utility costs. Combining it with a dividend program is crucial to ensure the cost isn’t simply passed down to hard-working Americans.”  

CCL volunteers have added to the media drumbeat for carbon pricing. In the last 30 days, they’ve gotten 175 letters to the editor and 65 op-eds published. In a piece co-authored with CCL Executive Director Mark Reynolds in the Ventura County Star, Jan Dietrick acknowledged her group’s congressman, Rep. Salud Carbajal (CA-24), for co-sponsoring the Deutch bill. Jan’s op-ed touted the health benefits that would accrue with the legislation:

“As fossil fuel use drops and emissions decline, public health will also benefit. We could save 4.5 million American lives over the next 50 years by replacing polluted air with clean air.” 

Praise for cosponsors is also showing up in letters to the editor, like this one from Nadine Sapirman in central New Jersey: 

“I want to thank my Congressman, Tom Malinowski (NJ-7) for recently co-sponsoring a bill in Congress called the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. This bill would put a steadily increasing price on carbon pollution; those monies would be returned to American families in the form of a monthly dividend check – a ‘carbon cashback’ so to speak.”

Last, but certainly not least, CCL’s Mark Reynolds had an op-ed published in The Hill on Saturday making the case that carbon pricing is our best player in the battle against climate change and shouldn’t be left sitting on the bench:

“In the game of climate action, a price on carbon is one of the strongest players on the team… With the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, I’m encouraged to see Congress getting carbon pricing in the game. The championship trophy is a healthy, stable future for ourselves and future generations. Let’s win this thing.”

Steve Valk is Communications Coordinator for Citizens' Climate Lobby. Steve joined the CCL staff in 2009 after a 30-year career with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter at @valklimate.