U.S. Conservatives Unveil Plan to Fight Climate Change February 11, 2017


The plan, authored by former Republican cabinet members and economic advisers, could slash emissions. But is it politically feasible?

View Images  Emissions from a coal-fired power plant in Kentucky hint at the debate over climate change policy in Washington. Photograph by Luke Sharrett, The New York Times, Redux

View Images 
Emissions from a coal-fired power plant in Kentucky hint at the debate over climate change policy in Washington.
Photograph by Luke Sharrett, The New York Times, Redux`

In an effort to address the threat of climate change, a group of conservative U.S. statesmen has outlined a plan that, by 2030, could cut the United States’s carbon emissions by up to two-fifths below 2005 levels.

At a Wednesday press conference, the newly established “Climate Leadership Council”— a consortium of Republican Party stalwarts including officials from the Reagan and both Bush administrations—unveiled their plan for a gradually increasing, revenue-neutral tax that puts a price on carbon dioxide emissions.

The Climate Leadership Council’s proposal calls for a $40 tax on each metric ton of carbon dioxide emissions, with the tax steadily increasing on an annual basis. All proceeds—an estimated $200 to $300 billion per year—would be distributed back to American citizens in the form of dividend checks. Carbon taxes on foreign imports and rebates for U.S. exports would then keep U.S.-made goods competitive, the authors claim.

In return for implementing the tax, the plan calls for cutting many current U.S. regulations on carbon emissions. In particular, the plan calls for axing the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era EPA rule that aimed to slash CO2 from power plants, which generate 37 percent of the country’s total carbon emissions. (Legal challenges have stayed the rule’s implementation.)

“If you look at the priorities of President Trump, our plan ticks every one of his boxes,” says Ted Halstead, the group’s founder and CEO. “It is pro-growth. It is pro-jobs. It is pro-competitiveness linked with balanced trade. And last, but hardly least, it would be good for working-class Americans.”

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