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Carbon Pricing Gains Momentum in Congress

By Emily Wirzba, July 26, 2019


This week has been an exciting one for carbon pricing in Congress! Several different bills to put a price on carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions were introduced on July 25.

FCNL believes that carbon pricing is one of many essential tools that Congress should use to address climate change and shift towards a clean energy economy. While we have not endorsed any particular bill at this time, we are supportive overall of the efforts from both parties to advance carbon pricing legislation.

As we analyze legislation, we continue to evaluate bills based off of our carbon pricing principles. In particular, we look to see how carbon pricing legislation impacts low-income communities, communities of color, indigenous peoples, and other vulnerable communities. It is vital that any carbon pricing legislation ensures that these communities are not harmed, and benefit from the policy.

Here is a quick look at the bills that just were introduced:

Stemming Warming and Augmenting Pay (SWAP) Act (H.R. 4058): Led by Republican Rep. Francis Rooney (FL-19), this bipartisan bill sets a price of $30/metric ton of CO2 beginning in 2021 and increases by 5 percent each year.

  • This bill would reduce emissions by approximately 41 percent under 2005 levels by 2030.
  • Seventy percent of the net revenue is used to reduce individual, employer, or self-filing payroll taxes. Twenty percent goes towards energy assistance for low-income families, climate adaptation, energy efficiency, and R&D. Ten percent goes towards social security beneficiaries.

The Climate Action Rebate Act of 2019(S. 2284/H.R. 4050): Led by Democratic Sens. Chris Coons (DE) and Diane Feinstein (CA), and Democratic Rep. Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), this bill puts a price of $15/metric ton of CO2 starting in 2020 and increases by $15 each year.

  • This bill is designed to reduce U.S. carbon emissions by 55 percent by 2030, and 100 percent by 2050 (compared to 2017 levels).
  • Seventy percent of the revenue goes towards a monthly dividend for low-income and middle-income families. Twenty percent of the revenue is used for infrastructure, five percent for energy innovation and R&D, and five percent for transition assistance. Read more.

Raise Wages, Cut Carbon Act of 2019 (H.R. 3966: Led by Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski (IL-03), this bill puts a price of $40/ton of CO2 starting in 2020 and increases by 2.5 percent each year.

  • The bill will slowly increase the price on carbon until the U.S. achieves an emissions level equal to 20 percent of our 2005 emissions level.
  • Eighty-four percent of the revenue is used to offset the payroll tax. Ten percent goes towards social security beneficiaries. Five percent goes towards the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and one percent goes towards the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP).

We are thrilled to see multiple carbon pricing proposals introduced from both political parties. This will help develop the dialogue in Congress, and make it easier for comprehensive climate change legislation to advance. We will continue to engage with congressional offices and ask questions to ensure that vulnerable communities are helped and not harmed by these bills.

Find more resources, including in-depth bill analyses and a carbon pricing legislation comparison tool.

To urge your member to support bipartisan carbon pricing legislation, please use this leave-behind.

Background Carbon Pricing as a Solution to Climate Change 

FCNL believes that carbon pricing is one of many essential tools that Congress should use to address climate change and shift towards a clean energy economy. While we have not endorsed any particular bill at this time, we are supportive overall of the efforts from both parties to advance carbon pricing legislation. We hope that the below resources will help our network advocate for just climate policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote equitable communities.

Background Capturing the True Cost of Carbon 

With the United States pulling out of the Paris Agreement, discussions in Congress have increased on the need for tools to mitigate the effects of climate change. Pricing carbon emissions is one such tool but it has long been politically controversial.

Emily Wirzba

  • Legislative Manager, Sustainable Energy and Environment

Emily Wirzba leads FCNL’s lobbying work to achieve bipartisan recognition of climate change and action in Congress. Emily meets with members of Congress and their staff to promote FCNL's environmental priorities. She also works closely with FCNL's network across the country to organize constituents to lobby, write, and advocate for bipartisan environmental action in Congress. She currently serves as co-chair of the Washington Interreligious Staff Community's Energy and Ecology Working Group.