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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

August 2, 2012 at 12:54 PM

McDermott to roll out carbon tax bill to address climate change

WASHINGTON — Cap and trade is all but dead. Cap and dividend didn’t get far. And Congress is too busy with looming budget cuts, expiring tax cuts and other problems to deal with global warming.

It’s against that backdrop that Rep. Jim McDermott on Thursday planned to introduce the latest version of his legislation to combat climate change.

The Seattle Democrat is touting his Managed Carbon Price Act as a two-fer response to the federal deficit and extreme weather patterns that have gripped half of the United States in a drought.

The bill aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by putting a rising price on that pollution. At the same time, it sets targets to gradually lower total greenhouse gas emissions, to just 20 percent of what was released into the atmosphere in 2005 by the middle of this century.

McDermott’s staff say the bill would avoid creating volatility in energy prices that has dogged the cap and trade system in place in the European Union.

The money from carbon emissions would be deposited into a public trust fund, with 25 percent going to pay down the deficit and the rest spent to offset any increases in consumer utility rates.  If the price were set at $15 for each ton of carbon emissions, it could bring in about $80 billion, and more in later years.

McDermott, a liberal, said in a statement that even conservatives support his idea “because they know we have to wean ourselves off of carbon emitting energy sources, and do it in a way that doesn’t hurt our economy and makes sense for businesses.”

In late 2009, Sen Maria Cantwell coauthored another variant of cap and trade, called cap and dividend. Under that proposal, the federal government would auction off  “carbon shares,” or pollution permits, to oil producers and importers. Similar to McDermott’s proposal, Cantwell’s bill would have rebated 75 percent of the proceed to the public. The other 25 percent of the money would have gone to clean-energy research.

Cantwell’s bill, which she introduced with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, died in committee. Cantwell and Collins are planning to reintroduce it.

Comments | More in homepage, Politics Northwest, U.S. House of Representatives | Topics: cap and trade, climate change, Maria Cantwell

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