House Votes to Reject Carbon Tax as Curbelo Prepares to Introduce HTF Carbon Tax Bill

House Votes to Reject Carbon Tax as Curbelo Prepares to Introduce HTF Carbon Tax Bill

July 20, 2018  | Jeff Davis

July 20, 2018

The House of Representatives this week passed a non-binding resolution rejecting the idea of a carbon tax as bad for the economy as one Republican prepares to introduce a bill next week replacing the federal motor fuels tax with a carbon tax.

Yesterday, the House voted, 229 to 180 (roll call here), to pass H. Con. Res. 119, which expresses the sense of Congress that a carbon tax “would be detrimental to American families and businesses, and is not in the best interest of the United States.” The vote was predominantly party-line, with only six Republican “no” votes and only seven Democratic “yes” votes.

Yes No “Present”
Republicans 222 6 1
Democrats 7 174 1
TOTAL 229 180 2

Meanwhile, Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) is preparing to introduce legislation in the House next week levying a new carbon tax on CO2 emissions and using it to replace the existing federal taxes on gasoline, diesel fuel, and kerosene. In a draft summary of the legislation, the tax rate would be set at $23 per metric ton of CO2 emissions to start with, plus annual increases of two percent per year, plus a CPI inflation adjustment.

From a transportation perspective, the important thing to remember is that the burning of fossil fuels by the transportation sector only accounts for 36 percent of total CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion in the United States, according to the latest EPA estimates (see table ES-3 here).

Yet, under the draft Curbelo plan, the transportation sector would get 72.5 percent of the proceeds of the carbon tax (70 percent to the Highway Trust Fund and 2.5 percent to the Airport and Airway Trust Fund). 10 percent would go to states for grants to low-income households (a souped-up LIHEAP), 5 percent would go towards grants to states for coastal infrastructure resiliency, 3 percent to displaced energy workers, 2.5 percent for agricultural environmental incentive grants, 2 percent for coal mine cleanup, and the rest for a variety of research and mitigation programs. (This could all change by the time the final bill is introduced next week, of course.)

In 2016, fossil fuel combustion accounted for almost 5 billion metric tons of CO2 release in the United States. Exemptions and credits in the draft bill summary make it impossible to score. However, the Curbelo bill would tax CO2 release at $23 per ton to begin with. Even when the credits and the exemptions for de minimis producers and sectors are included, the legislation has the potential to deposit revenues into the Highway Trust Fund far in excess of the $35 billion per year that is currently deposited from the existing excise taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel.

Of course, giving the Highway Trust Fund the proceeds of wide-ranging taxes on non-transportation users instead of a dedicated tax on the highway use of motor fuels would put the final nail in the coffin of the user-pay, user-benefit principle that is supposed to underlie all federal trust funds. (The concept has taken a beating with the bailouts from general revenues supplementing the Trust Fund since 2008, but the Curbelo bill would make it official and permanent.)

Share

Related Articles

Increased Focus on Environmental Justice in Federal Transportation Policy Proposals

Increased Focus on Environmental Justice in Federal Transportation Policy Proposals

All federal agencies, including the USDOT, have had a mandate to incorporate environmental justice into their missions since 1994. The...

Road to Recovery Webinar: Rebalancing the Load: How Road User Charging Can Influence Traveler Behavior

Road to Recovery Webinar: Rebalancing the Load: How Road User Charging Can Influence Traveler Behavior

Congestion pricing can be a valuable tool for regions to address congestion and meet goals for sustainability and equity. Intelligent...

Op-Ed: Now is The Right Moment to Address Transportation-Related Air Quality Concerns

Op-Ed: Now is The Right Moment to Address Transportation-Related Air Quality Concerns

Vehicle miles traveled have plummeted across the country with many pre-COVID drivers now working from home (see FHWA’s April 2020 Traffic...

Webinar: Congestion Pricing in the United States

Webinar: Congestion Pricing in the United States

This webinar summarizes Eno's latest research report titled Congestion Pricing in the United States: Principles for Developing a Viable...

Op-Ed: Trump Emissions Rule Will Accelerate Climate Change

Op-Ed: Trump Emissions Rule Will Accelerate Climate Change

Despite the current public health and economic emergency, the Trump Administration issued its final rule on vehicle fuel efficiency and CO2...

Webinar: OK Vroomer: Millennials and Car Culture

Webinar: OK Vroomer: Millennials and Car Culture

In this webinar, we will discuss how for many people, owning and using a car symbolizes social status and personal image and how this...

White House Releases Overhaul of NEPA Implementing Regulations

White House Releases Overhaul of NEPA Implementing Regulations

On December 9, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released a proposed rule to overhaul the enforcement of National...

House Subcommittee Considers Environmental, Economic Effects and Industry Involvement in CAFE Standards

House Subcommittee Considers Environmental, Economic Effects and Industry Involvement in CAFE Standards

On October 29, the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Environment held a hearing, “Trump’s Wrong Turn on Clean Cars: The...

Reducing Transportation Emissions, Improving Air Quality Recurring Themes at Global Cities Climate Summit

Reducing Transportation Emissions, Improving Air Quality Recurring Themes at Global Cities Climate Summit

On October 10 and 11, nearly 2,000 global city leaders from the public, private, and civic sectors gathered in Copenhagen, Denmark, for the...

Webinar: From Yellow to Green: Reducing School Transportation’s Impact on the Environment

Webinar: From Yellow to Green: Reducing School Transportation’s Impact on the Environment

The primary goal of every school transportation system is getting students to school safely and on time each day. To do so, America’s...

Fuel Efficiency Standards - California vs. the Feds (How We Got Here, and What Comes Next)

Fuel Efficiency Standards - California vs. the Feds (How We Got Here, and What Comes Next)

California and four major automakers (BMW, VW, Ford, and Honda) signed a voluntary agreement that appears to preempt the Trump...

Beyond Speculation 2.0: Automated Vehicles and Public Policy

Beyond Speculation 2.0: Automated Vehicles and Public Policy

Technology continues to alter how people and goods move. One innovation that has the greatest potential to upend traditional travel is the...

Be Part of the Conversation
Sign up to receive news, events, publications, and course notifications.
No thanks