Former President Barack Obama’s regulation-heavy Climate Action Plan was inefficient and should be replaced with a carbon tax, a group of senior Republican statesmen told White House officials during a February 8 meeting.
The new pitch is laid out in a paper by the Climate Leadership Council — whose membership includes former GOP Treasury Secretaries James Baker, Henry Paulson, and George Shultz, as well as former chairmen of the Council of Economic Advisers, Marty Feldstein and Greg Mankiw.
Obama-era regulations are going to be dropping like flies if President Donald Trump keeps his promise to slash two old regulations for every one new regulation, the group said. Trump can start with eliminating the Clean Power Plan—carbon emissions standards for coal-fired power plants—if he institutes a well-designed carbon dividends plan instead, it said.
“Now that the Republican Party controls the White House and Congress, it has the opportunity and responsibility to promote a climate plan that showcases the full power of enduring conservative convictions. Any climate solution should be based on sound economic analysis and embody the principles of free markets and limited government,” the paper says.
According to the paper, a successful carbon dividends plan would consist of four pillars: It should increase gradually from a suggested base of $40 per ton charged at the refinery, mine, well, or port from which the fossil fuel originates; all proceeds of the tax should be returned to the American people via dividend checks; it must include border adjustments for imports and exports; and it must not be implemented until there has been a significant rollback of regulations that would no longer be relevant under the tax.
Such a plan would send market signals encouraging innovation and investment, according to the paper. “An ideal climate strategy would simultaneously reduce carbon emissions and steer America towards a path of more durable economic growth. A carbon dividends plan can do exactly that,” the group wrote.
—Abby L. Harvey is a POWER reporter.