HARTFORD, CT — A group of Connecticut lawmakers are again introducing a carbon tax, but they’re open to ideas about how to implement it.
Last year, they proposed a fee of $15 a ton on carbon pollution that would be levied on coal, oil, natural gas, propane, or any other petroleum products. It would also be levied on electricity generators that use fossil fuels. The bill died in committee after a public hearing.
Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, D-Westport, said last week that they are open discussing different ways of doing this.
He said Connecticut is among a group of nine states, which includes mostly northeast states like Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire, that are looking to introduce a carbon tax, but there’s “no one single model.”
“While the proposals of each state in this coalition vary, we are united in our end goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve public health, and accurately account for the cost of carbon,” Steinberg said.
Steinberg said having a contiguous block of states with parallel carbon initiatives makes achieving carbon goals possible.
He said most of the lawmakers would prefer a “revenue neutral model” where the increase in pricing that’s passed along to the consumer from the carbon emitter gets distributed back to consumers. However, he also acknowledged the difficulty in creating such a model.
There’s also a “revenue positive model” where about 80 percent would get returned to consumers and the other 20 percent would be put into energy conservation funds or used to subsidize renewable energy projects. Steinberg said the problem with that is lawmakers are all too ready to sweep those accounts during a budget crisis like they did last year.
It’s unclear how far the proposal may get this year, but it’s clear there won’t be any help from the federal government.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is seeking to replace the Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece of former President Barack Obama’s climate change regulation, which would have reduced carbon emissions from power plants.
“We know the impact that these noxious gases are having on our environment and we know there is something we can do,” Rep. Cristin McCarthy Vahey, D-Fairfield, said.
In his State of the Union speech, Republican President Donald Trump declared an end to the “the war on beautiful clean coal.”
McCarthy Vahey cited that phrase in pointing out that the answer is not going to come from Washington.
Steinberg said a regional approach is the best way to move forward and still have an impact.