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New Carbon Tax Bill Suggests a Future Republican Shift on Climate Change
On Thursday, July 19 The Hill reported that the Republican controlled Congress passed a non-binding resolution saying a tax on carbon-dioxide emissions "would be detrimental to American families and businesses, and is not in the best interest of the United States."
The two approaches, Time Magazine reported Thursday, could represent the past and future of the Republican party.
"The pendulum will swing," former Republican South Carolina congressman Bob Inglis, who heads the non-profit RepublicEn, which promotes conservative solutions for environmental problems, told Time. "And when that pendulum swings…it may just be the solution you don't want on climate."
The two congressmen who introduced and co-sponsored the carbon tax bill could be the beginning of that swing.
Carlos Curbelo, the Florida Representative who introduced the bill, represents a district stretching from Key West to outside Miami.
"I tell my skeptical colleagues: When my district is underwater, I'll move to their district and run against them," he told Grist. "That usually breaks the ice."
He formed the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus with fellow Floridian and Democratic Congressperson Ted Deutch, which is designed to have an even number of Republican and Democrat members.
As of now, Time reports it has 43 Republican members, even though many still vote against climate action despite claiming to believe in its necessity.
"We're seeing trends in the House that should give us all hope," Curbelo told Time.
The bill's co-sponsor, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, voted in line with the environment 71 percent of the time in 2017 according to the League of Conservation Voters' scorecard, the highest percentage of any Congressional Republican, Grist reported.
One reason a carbon tax might be a gateway climate proposal for Republicans is that it is actually favored by companies who see climate policy as inevitable, and prefer a tax to more complicated regulations, Time explained.
"We believe that an economy-wide, market-based approach to valuing or pricing carbon, when carefully crafted, can both strengthen our economy and reduce carbon emissions by encouraging technological innovation and stimulating new investments in infrastructure, products, and services," the letter said.
Curbelo's current bill is not likely to pass, given the opinions of the rest of the Republican majority in Congress, but it might model a way forward for the party in the future. Time reported two polls by the Alliance of Market Solutions and the Pew Research Center respectively that showed that more than half of younger Republicans care about climate change and that almost 25 percent of people under 30 who identified as Republican in 2015 had since left the party.
However, Emilie Prattico, director of development at We Mean Business, a private-sector climate mobilization non-profit, cautioned in a Huffington Post opinion piece that carbon tax supporters could do better than Curbelo's bill.
While it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions 27 to 32 percent by 2025 and 30 to 40 percent by 2030, its other provisions would not go far enough to adequately address climate change.
It would devote as much as 70 percent of generated revenue to updating existing fossil-fuel-based transportation infrastructure and only a small percent to developing carbon-free transport options and it would allow emitters a chance to perform their way out of having to obey Clean Air Act regulations if they followed the law.
"A successful carbon tax bill, whether it is proposed by Democrats, Republicans or both, would not only impose a levy on fossil fuels but steer the economy toward innovation, less-polluting alternatives for high-emitting sectors, and fairness to consumers and citizens," Prattico wrote.
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Ethics investigations have been opened into the conduct of senior Trump appointees at the nation's top environmental agencies.
The two investigations focus on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler and six high-ranking officials in the Department of Interior (DOI), The Hill reported Tuesday. Both of them involve the officials' former clients or employers.
"This is demonstrative of the failures at the very top of this administration to set an ethical tone," Campaign Legal Center Ethics Counsel Delaney Marsco told The Washington Post of the DOI investigation. "When people come to work for government, they're supposed to work on behalf of the public. It's a betrayal of the public trust when senior political appointees seem to give privileged access to their former employers or former clients."
By Dipika Kadaba
We've known for more than 50 years that smoking cigarettes comes with health hazards, but it turns out those discarded butts are harmful for the environment, too. Filtered cigarette butts, although small, contain dozens of chemicals, including arsenic and benzene. These toxins can leach into the ground or water, creating a potentially deadly situation for nearby birds, fish and other wildlife.
By Wenonah Hauter
Five years ago this week, an emergency manager appointed by then-Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder made the devastating decision to save money by switching Flint's water supply over from Detroit's water system to the Flint River. Seen as a temporary fix, the new water supply was not properly treated. High levels of lead leached from the old pipes, poisoning a generation of Flint's children, and bacteria responsible for an outbreak of Legionnaires' Disease killed more than a dozen residents.
Did you know that more than a third of food is wasted or thrown away every year? And that only 25 percent of it would be enough to feed the 795 million undernourished people in the world? That's why today is Stop Food Waste Day, a chance to reflect on what you can do to waste less of the food you buy.