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Three Florida Congressmen Among Sponsors Of New Bill That Would Put A Fee On Carbon Emissions

A new bill would impose a fee on producers of carbon dioxide-heavy energy sources like coal and oil. The money from the fee would be given to taxpayers to offset higher energy costs.
J. David Ake
A new bill would impose a fee on producers of carbon dioxide-heavy energy sources like coal and oil. The money from the fee would be given to taxpayers to offset higher energy costs.

A new bill to put a price on carbon dioxide emissions is being introduced this week in the U.S. House of Representatives, and three of the five sponsors are from Florida.

The bipartisan Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act would impose a fee on oil refineries, coal producers and other companies that are major carbon dioxide sources. That would likely cause companies to raise prices. But the bill would take the money from the carbon fee and give it to American taxpayers and their families so they could offset higher energy costs. 

Read more: Temperatures In Florida Are Rising. For Vulnerable Patients, The Heat Can Be Life-Threatening.

Congressman Ted Deutch represents parts of Palm Beach and Broward counties and is among the bill's sponsors. He said the National Climate Assessment report released last week underscores the need for drastic action on climate change. The report highlights impacts already affecting Florida communities, and says climate change could reduce the size of the U.S. economy by 10 percent before the end of the century.

"If we don’t act now, we are nearing a point of no return when it comes to our environment, when it comes to our health, and when it comes to our economy," Deutch told reporters in a call. "That's why this legislation is so important. It is the product of rigorous negotiations between Democrats and Republicans, liberal groups and conservative groups, environmentalists and business interests."

Read more: Climate Change Is Already Hurting U.S. Communities, Federal Report Says

Initially the fee would be $15 per metric ton of CO2, increasing by $10 every year -- and more if the country fails to meet annual emissions reductions targets.

Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL-19) and Democratic Rep. and former Governor Charlie Crist (D-Fl-13) joined Deutch, Rep. John K. Delaney of Maryland and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania in sponsoring the bill.

The congressmen say if successfully enacted, the bill would cut emissions by 40 percent in the next decade, and by more than 90 percent in the next 30 years.

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Kate Stein can't quite explain what attracts her to South Florida. It's more than just the warm weather (although this Wisconsin native and Northwestern University graduate definitely appreciates the South Florida sunshine). It has a lot to do with being able to travel from the Everglades to Little Havana to Brickell without turning off 8th Street. It's also related to Stein's fantastic coworkers, whom she first got to know during a winter 2016 internship.Officially, Stein is WLRN's environment, data and transportation journalist. Privately, she uses her job as an excuse to rove around South Florida searching for stories à la Carl Hiaasen and Edna Buchanan. Regardless, Stein speaks Spanish and is always thrilled to run, explore and read.
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