During a meeting on climate and energy issues, a bipartisan group of lawmakers discussed a tariff on imports from countries that contribute to climate change. They also examined environmental reviews that Republicans have long called too onerous.
On Monday, the group of about a dozen lawmakers from across the ideological spectrum met to discuss the issues in what Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) described as “getting everyone together on some ideas … on how we can all work together.”
“We want to make sure that we have the reliability that fossil has given us and can continue to give us and must continue to give us as we basically promote and invest in the new technologies and innovation that’s going to take us to the next level,” he said.
According to Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), the ideas discussed included:
- "Where we’re going to get our minerals"
- "How we’re going to get them processed"
- "The NEPA review process as you think about building renewable facilities"
NEPA refers to the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires environmental reviews of major projects, including energy infrastructure, but also other construction such as highways.
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) said he promoted a carbon border adjustment, an import tariff on products from countries that may have less stringent climate regulations.
“Right now the current system incentivizes countries like China and India and Vietnam to not pay attention to emissions because you can produce a good cheaper by not paying,” Cassidy said. “But if we had a border carbon adjustment, it would help our workers, help our industry, incentivize them to do it right.”
“This is about national security. Right now, we’re losing jobs, we’re losing industry and China’s economy’s getting stronger,” he said. “A carbon border adjustment reverses that.”
But, Cassidy specified that his proposal was “different than a carbon tax, absolutely. Period. End of story.”
Democrats who attended the meeting:
- Sen. Mark Warner (Va.)
- Sen. Brian Schatz (Hawaii)
Sen. Chris Coons (Del.)
- Sen. Tom Carper (Del.)
- Sen. Mark Kelly (Ariz.)
- Sen. John Hickenlooper (Colo.)
- Rep. Ro Khanna (Calif.).
Republicans who attended:
- Sen. Dan Sullivan (Alaska)
- Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)
The meeting came a week after a previous meeting that was attended by Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer (N.D.), who was not in Washington on Monday.
On Tuesday, Cramer was back in town: He floated the idea of credits for “emerging technologies” like carbon capture — which seeks to prevent plant-warming emissions from going into the air when fossil fuels are burned — and hydrogen energy. He suggested a “fuel neutral” approach that would be tied to an emissions standard.
The senator was skeptical when asked if the talks could be used to advance Democrats’ proposed tax credits.
“If it becomes a vehicle for them then it becomes less attractive to us,” Cramer said.
“If we don’t keep it narrow, it’ll spin out of control.”
A third meeting is expected to take place on Wednesday.
Read more about Monday’s meeting here.