Rep. John Larson & 16 House Democrats introduce carbon pricing bill

Larson America Wins Act carbon pricing

Rep. Larson (D-CT) unveiled the America Wins Act at an event held with transportation stakeholders in East Hartford.

Rep. John Larson & 16 House Democrats introduce carbon pricing bill

By Flannery Winchester

Last week, Climate Solutions Caucus member Rep. John Larson (D-CT) introduced a carbon pricing bill called the America Wins Act. Joining Rep. Larson in co-sponsoring this bill are fellow Climate Solutions Caucus members Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA) and 14 other Democrats.

Since the bill has solely Democratic cosponsors, it likely will not get far in the current Republican-controlled Congress. Despite that, CCL is encouraged to see the continued elevation of a climate solution that prices carbon and returns revenue to American households.

Details about the bill

Larson’s bill, the America Wins Act, would set an initial price of $49 per ton in 2019 on carbon dioxide emissions (not on CO2 equivalents). The price would be assessed on the manufacturer, the producer or the importer, and it would rise 2% annually over inflation each year.

Under this bill, the revenue would be held in the “Build America Trust Fund” and be used in several different ways. First, $1 trillion would be invested in infrastructure. “Infrastructure is not a Democratic or Republican issue, it’s an American issue,” Larson said in a statement. “At a time when the American people are tired of partisan gridlock, this is a solution to fix our crumbling infrastructure and put people to work rebuilding the country.”

Next, $5 billion each year would go to help workers and communities heavily reliant on carbon-intensive industries transition away from those industries. Third, 12.5% of the revenue would go into an “Energy Refund Program,” sending the revenue back to households. Low-income Americans would be eligible for a direct monthly payment. And finally, remaining revenue would be available to create a consumer tax rebate for households with incomes up to 350% of the poverty line.

Larson said, “This is a jobs program for the middle class, it’s tax relief for consumers, it shores up the pensions of coal miners, and it improves the quality of the air we breathe. It is a win-win-win-win.”

For more details on the America Wins Act, including the border adjustment and exemptions, check out CCL Community’s page on legislation of interest.

Our take on the bill

Dr. Danny Richter, CCL’s VP of Legislative Affairs, said, “From the CCL perspective, this would be a great Democratic bill that does more than the Clean Power Plan to address the climate problem and should enable us to easily clear our Paris obligations.”

“We like the provision of revenue to low-income families, but would need to understand better how it affected low-income households,” Dr. Richter continued. “At first glance, it would not do as much as returning 100% of the revenue, as in the CCL proposal.”

And of course, in order for any carbon pricing bill to be truly politically viable, it would need a coalition of bipartisan co-sponsors. The introduction of this bill shows that fee-and-dividend style carbon pricing is gaining more and more traction as a workable climate solution that can address climate change while growing the economy. It’s only a matter of time before Republicans jump on board.

Flannery Winchester has put her words to work for magazines, for marketing agencies, and now for our earth as CCL's Communications Director. She is grateful to spend every day working to preserve this beautiful planet.