Blumenauer takes Congressional carbon tax helm

Rep. Earl Blumenauer wants to know whether $15 per ton is enough of a carbon tax for big-time polluters.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer wants to know whether $15 per ton is enough of a carbon tax for big-time polluters.

U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer is assuming a lead role as Congress develops carbon tax ideas.

Blumenauer is one of four Democratic D.C. electeds — Rep. Henry Waxman of California, Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island — released draft carbon-pricing legislation this week. The legislation would make violators pay for “dangerous carbon pollution” emitted through manufacturing and other processses.

Blumenauer, who’s one of two Portland U.S. representatives, also plans to track the four state-level efforts to impose taxes on pollutants emitted by manufacturers.

The measure would require polluters to pay given fees for each ton of pollution they release.

A study released earlier this week by Portland State University found that charging as much as $30 per metric carbon ton emitted would bring $1.1 billion to the state’s coffers. The tax could also reduce the amount of carbon pollution by nearly 20 percent over the next 20 years.

Blumenauer said the measure would warn “big polluters” that they’ll need to pay a price for their actions.

"We’re fascinated with the reactions here for carbon taxes that could help not just protect the future of the planet, but it might be key to reform the corporate tax system,” Blumenauer said. “It also simplifies questions about environmental compliance that are proving to be a challenge for utilities and companies that are large producers of carbon pollution.”

Blumenauer said Thursday morning he’d met with two dozen environmental leaders to discuss the measure as well as possible tax reform initiatives.

Blumenauer and his colleagues will explore such questions as whether $15 per ton is enough to pay, the degree to which the penalty would increase each year and the best ways to divvy up the revenue throughout the U.S.

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