During the first term of his presidency, President Barack Obama and his allies in Congress attempted to push forward a carbon tax bill that would have been the first real attempt by the U.S. government to place financial curbs on pollution. That proposal failed to gain traction among conservative Democrats and Republicans and was soon pushed to the wayside.
Now, according to an announcement from several left-leaning members of Congress, a drive for a carbon tax may be beginning once again. The draft law, published through a press release from the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, contains a number of initiatives that would impose penalties on American companies that produce substantial amounts of carbon dioxide.
Essentially, the legislation would impose a per-ton tax on businesses that would be collected in a collaboration between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Treasury Department. The EPA would calculate how much carbon dioxide is produced by a given company while the Treasury would actually conduct the transaction.
The group, composed of Representatives Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), and Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Brian Schatz (D-HI), stressed that much of the institutional knowledge required to set the carbon tax in place has already been developed by government officials.
Ultimately, the goal is to urge more companies to invest in renewable energy options through economic incentives.
"Let's send a signal to big polluters that it's past time to start putting a price on carbon pollution," Blumenauer said in the announcement. "This proposal has a great deal of potential to help protect the environment, reduce the deficit, create jobs, and support the transition to clean energy sources and low carbon transportation options."
Included in the proposal is a list of questions meant to promote debate, both among American stakeholders and the general public, which can be found here. While it's uncertain how far the renewed idea of a carbon tax will go in a divided Congress, it's encouraging to see some politicians attempting to tackle the ever-growing problem of carbon pollution.