On Tuesday, Representative Henry A. Waxman, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Representative Earl Blumenauer, and Senator Brian Schatz released draft legislation that would put a price on carbon released by polluters.
The two bills both aim to confront climate change by harnessing the power of the free market, a spokesperson for Rep. Waxman said, but offer different mechanisms for doing so. The Waxman bill would target power plants, for example, while the Boxer bill would focus on "upstream" emitters like coal mines and oil refineries. But both bills are likely to undergo tweaks before being officially introduced.
The Congressmen are also soliciting feedback from stakeholders and the public. Here are the questions they want answered:
1. What is the appropriate price per ton for polluters to pay? The draft contains alternative prices of $15, $25, and $35 per ton for discussion purposes.
2. How much should the price per ton increase on an annual basis? The draft contains a range of increases from 2% to 8% per year for discussion purposes.
3. What are the best ways to return the revenue to the American people? The discussion draft proposes putting the revenue toward the following goals, and solicits comments on how to best accomplish each: (1) mitigating energy costs for consumers, especially low-income consumers; (2) reducing the Federal deficit; (3) protecting jobs of workers at trade-vulnerable, energy intensive industries; (4) reducing the tax liability for individuals and businesses; and (5) investing in other activities to reduce carbon pollution and its effects.
4. How should the carbon fee program interact with state programs that address carbon pollution?
Have answer to these questions? Let us know in the comments below, but don't forget to tell the Congressmen, as well. You can send your responses to firstname.lastname@example.org
UPDATE: David Roberts takes a stab at answering the four questions above, but concludes with his own question:
What exactly is the strategy here? In the last few weeks, we’ve had Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) (probably the two most liberal senators) and a group of liberal Dems led by Waxman release two not-quite-overlapping carbon-pricing proposals. Obviously these proposals have no real chance of passing, though they’ll serve as message bills. But what’s the message? From what I hear, neither was telegraphed very far in advance. No work was done to build coalitions to push or publicize them. In terms of optics, they seem only to reinforce the D.C. conventional wisdom that carbon pricing is a doomed and futile preoccupation of left liberals.
I’m having trouble avoiding the the conclusion that, after the cap-and-trade push fell apart, the climate-hawk coalition fragmented and everyone is off doing their own thing, throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks. Maybe that’s the right way to go. But I’d feel more comfortable if I could discern some method to the madness.