Today, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) introduced the “Managed Carbon Price Act of 2012″ (MCP), a bill imposing a tax on carbon dioxide-equivalent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from producers of coal, oil, and natural gas, refineries, and other covered sources. The MCP has roughly the same long-term goal as the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill, the Copenhagen climate treaty, and California Assembly Bill 32 — an 80% emissions reduction below 2005 levels by 2050.
Under the MCP, covered sources would have to purchase (non-tradeable) permits equal to the quantity of CO2-equivalent GHGs they emit. The Secretary of Treasury, in consulatation with the Secy. of Energy and Administrator of EPA, would “manage” permit prices to ensure that both the long-term and interim reduction targets are met. Permit prices would have to stay within a maximum and minimum “price collar.” Seventy-five percent of the proceeds would be returned to citizens as “dividends,” and 25% would be applied to deficit reduction. A fact sheet, section-by-section analysis, and side-by-side comparison with last year’s version of the bill provide more detail.
A few quick observations. First, the overwhelming majority of Republican members of Congress have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge – a promise to the citizens of their State or district not to support any tax increase that is not offset by an equal reduction in other taxes. Because 25% of the proceeds raised by the ‘managed’ carbon tax would be applied to deficit reduction, the MCP is not ‘revenue-neutral.’ Pledge takers cannot vote for the MCP without breaking their promises to their constituents. Even if some GOP lawmakers agree with the bill’s climate policy objectives, few will dare to support it.