This week saw the introduction of the Market Choice Act, offered by Reps. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), which would curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through a $24/ton tax on carbon levied at the point of fossil fuel production (for energy emissions) and at the manufacturing facility (for process emissions). The bill also repeals the federal gas tax and uses 70 percent of the revenues from the new carbon tax to replenish the Highway Trust Fund. Finally, it imposes a border tax adjustment on imported goods to compensate for increased domestic production costs resulting from the carbon tax, and it places a moratorium through at least 2025 on Clean Air Act GHG regulations from stationary sources covered by the tax.
Reps. Curbelo and Fitzpatrick are to be applauded for their willingness to start a meaningful conversation on climate policy. The reality that the last time a comprehensive climate bill was debated in earnest was 2009 tells a tale. A lot has happened since then in terms of how we produce and use energy and how we can reduce our carbon footprint. The manufacturing sector, for instance, has reduced our GHG emissions 10 percent over the past decade while increasing our value to the economy by 19 percent.
Given the enormous complexity of the issues involved and their potential impact on manufacturing families, Congress would do well to take a measured, comprehensive approach to this proposal. Bold ideas to drive positive change are always welcome. However, bold action can sometimes have unintended consequences. Now is not the time to act without thinking—the stakes for manufacturers and their employees are simply too high.
Individually, these proposals are game-changing. Collectively, we need to make sure they are not game-ending.
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