The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2021 hits the House

Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act

By Steve Valk

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL-22) reintroduced the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2021 today with 28 cosponsors. The bill would place a rising fee on carbon pollution that will get America to net zero emissions by 2050. Revenue from the fee would be distributed evenly to all Americans as monthly payments.

The bill, which amassed 85 cosponsors by the end of the 116th Congress, arrives at a critical time, with Congress in the process of crafting a package of solutions likely to be considered this summer. A show of support for the Deutch bill and similar legislation will play a key role in determining whether carbon pricing, considered the most effective tool for reducing carbon emissions, is included in those solutions.

“We are thrilled to see this legislation reintroduced, and our volunteers are eager to continue building support for it on both sides of the aisle,” said Dr. Danny Richter, Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s VP of Government Affairs. 

Rep. Ted Deutch

Rep. Ted Deutch

In a statement released today, Rep. Deutch acknowledged the impact of the COVID-19 on emissions and the economy, and he explained how his legislation can help. “The pandemic may have temporarily interrupted the scale of global carbon emissions, but we need a robust plan that makes lasting changes to our energy sector,” Deutch said. “We’re proposing a market-based solution to put a price on carbon and drive the transition to cleaner energy sources. Returning 100% of the net revenue back to American families will not only cover any increase in energy costs but also give extra support to those continuing to struggle financially from the pandemic.”

Former Congressman Francis Rooney, a Republican who sponsored the bill during the last Congress, also offered his support for the legislation: “I am thankful to Congressman Deutch for reintroducing the carbon tax and dividend proposal which we worked on together the last few years. A tax on carbon is the most market- friendly and efficient means of value pricing the adverse impacts of burning carbon and of driving the energy markets towards cleaner fuels, beginning with natural gas and moving increasingly to renewables.”

For now, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act has no Republican cosponsors. Under different circumstances, Rep. Deutch may have waited longer to reintroduce his bill in order to enroll GOP cosponsors. But with congressional action on climate change moving at an accelerated pace, a short window of opportunity requires putting solutions on the table quickly.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby is still committed to a bipartisan approach to enacting legislation. Having buy-in from members of Congress on both sides of the aisle will help ensure that the policy holds up over time and does not succumb to shifting political winds. And outside of Congress, this policy has support across the political spectrum from right-leaning business groups, Republican state legislators, conservatives right here in CCL, and more.

CCL President Madeleine Para, speaking to the issue of bipartisanship, said, “I applaud Rep. Deutch for the swift reintroduction with strong Democratic support. CCL will continue our work to bring both Republicans and Democrats to the table to enact strong and durable climate legislation.” 

Growing support for the Deutch bill is now in the hands of our volunteers, who have done remarkable work over the years developing relationships with lawmakers from both parties. They continued that work late last month as thousands of volunteers held nearly 400 meetings with congressional offices to make the case for carbon pricing. They’ve also enrolled support in their communities, getting thousands of endorsements for the Energy Innovation Act from businesses, prominent individuals, local governments and faith groups.

The reintroduction of the Deutch bill adds to the momentum building for carbon pricing. It comes just weeks after Majority Whip Sen. Dick Durbin introduced his own carbon tax and dividend bill in the Senate. Last month, Republican Sen. Mitt Romney voiced his openness to a “carbon tax, carbon dividend” policy. The 116th Congress saw a dozen carbon pricing bills introduced, sponsored by both Republicans and Democrats. 

 

Support for carbon pricing also runs high among outside of Congress, among groups like:

  • The business community: The Business Roundtable, the American Petroleum Institute, and the CEO Climate Dialogue have all endorsed carbon pricing. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has expressed a preference for a market-based approach to emissions reductions.
  • Faith groups: A coalition of 20 national faith organizations, which includes the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church, and Young Evangelicals for Climate Action, have called carbon pricing a “powerful tool.”
  • The scientific community: The scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) say that “explicit carbon pricing” is “a necessary condition of ambitious climate policies.”

The policy also finds support with key members of the Biden administration:

  • Climate envoy John Kerry wrote that we should “place a price on carbon pollution so we change behavior and incentivize action.”
  • Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is “fully supportive of effective carbon pricing,” adding during her confirmation hearing, “I know that the President is as well.” 
  • Noah Kaufman, the newly appointed senior economist in the White House Council of Economic Advisers, says “putting a price on carbon dioxide emissions is a no-brainer.”

“Today’s introduction adds to the momentum behind carbon pricing. This bill will get us to net-zero emissions by 2050 and protect ordinary Americans so that everyone can afford the clean-energy transition,” said Mark Reynolds, CCL Executive Director. “With the commitment of this Congress, we can get it done.”

Steve Valk
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.
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