STATEMENT: CAP Action’s McGuinness and Caperton on New Climate Change Legislation

Washington, D.C. — Today Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced major climate change legislation that includes a carbon fee. The Center for American Progress Action Fund released the following statements from Tara McGuinness, Executive Director, and Richard W. Caperton, Director of Clean Energy Investment:

“Sen. Sanders and Sen. Boxer continue to focus us on what really matters: our moral obligation to leave a country and a planet to our children that is not damaged and polluted,” said McGuinness. “They are taking action to reduce carbon pollution—making sure that political squabbling doesn’t distract us from the task at hand. Today, across the country, Americans of all walks of life are coping with the devastating impacts of climate change on their homes, businesses, and livelihoods. It’s time that we invest in our communities, rather than leaving the American taxpayer to foot a billion-dollar bill while they’re clearing the debris and fearing the effects of the next catastrophic storm.”

“The aim of a carbon fee is to combat the effects of global warming while growing the economy. This bill does both while also reducing the deficit and ensuring that small businesses and lower-income Americans are not adversely affected,” said Caperton. “The details matter when designing a carbon tax that works for all, and Sens. Sanders and Boxer have dotted the ‘i’s and crossed the ‘t’s.  The tax is sufficient to reduce pollution, the tax is collected from major polluters with minimal new bureaucracy, and the money is spent in a way that guarantees a progressive outcome.”

In “A Progressive Carbon Tax Will Fight Climate Change and Stimulate the Economy,” CAP proposes that Congress should set the price of carbon at a level that will lead to climate safety and that this price should rise over time. Second, the carbon tax will ultimately need to cover all major polluters, but it should be phased in to various sectors over time, starting with a tax on pollution from power plants. Third, the revenue needs to be directed to three uses: minimizing harm to vulnerable consumers and businesses, growing the economy with investments in clean energy infrastructure and other infrastructure that makes communities more resilient in the face of climate change, and reducing the deficit burden on future generations.

CAP recently documented the human and economic toll from recent devastating extreme weather events in our November 2012 report “Heavy Weather: How Climate Destruction Harms Middle- and Lower- Income Americans.” Since the release of that report, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, has updated its list of “billion-dollar”-damage weather events for 2012, bringing the two-year total to 25 incidents. From 2011 to 2012 these 25 “billion-dollar damage” weather events in the United States are estimated to have caused up to $188 billion in total damage.

To speak with CAP Action experts, please contact Christina DiPasquale at 202.481.8181 or cdipasquale@americanprogressaction.org.

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