Groups Urge Congress to Reject Carbon Tax in Reconciliation Bill

Ending wasteful oil and gas subsidies would be a better way to pay for infrastructure

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Climate and Energy

Leading climate, environmental justice and grassroots activist groups released a letter to top Senate and House Democrats urging them to reject last-minute efforts to include a carbon tax in the Build Back Better infrastructure proposal.

 The groups – Climate Justice Alliance, Food & Water Watch, Indigenous Environmental Network, Our Revolution, and Progressive Democrats of America – argue that carbon taxes only serve to deepen our dependence on fossil fuels by linking revenue from pollution to ongoing government services. The letter also points out that the costs associated with such a tax will ultimately be paid by working people, which would violate President Biden’s pledge not to raise taxes on households making less than $400,000.

“Carbon taxes have fallen out of serious climate discussions for good reasons: They do not reduce emissions, they put a squeeze on working families, and they are embraced by polluters as a ploy to look concerned about climate while continuing business as usual,” said Food & Water Watch Policy Director Mitch Jones. “As if that record isn’t bad enough, adding a carbon tax as a last minute revenue raiser in the spending bill would only make our economy more dependent on dirty fossil fuels. If lawmakers are really concerned about holding the costs of this spending bill, they should get rid of the billions of dollars we waste every year on subsidies to polluters.”

Carbon taxes have gained popularity among fossil fuel companies in recent years. In lieu of strong policies that would mandate pollution reductions, a small tax would allow corporations to largely maintain the status quo.

“Using a carbon tax to fund the Build Back Better Act to cover the costs of the package does nothing to address the climate crisis,” stated Tom Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network. “A carbon tax distracts from the urgent need to keep oil, coal and gas in the ground. It would be a tax scheme benefiting the polluters, that does not cut emissions at source at the level that is needed to get the world to 1.5º C. It will result in the continuation of environmental injustice displacing families, affecting Indigenous treaty rights and upending local economies.”

As the letter states,

“the inclusion of a carbon tax would create an inequitable, discriminatory, ineffective and ultimately regressive proposal that gives a green light for the biggest climate scofflaws to pay to pollute and maintain a harmful status quo. We urge you to oppose a carbon tax and instead pursue other revenue streams to pay for critical infrastructure, such as eliminating fossil fuel subsidies.”