October 16, 2020

Congressional Climate Leaders Introduce Colorado Inspired Carbon Cost Act

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Joe Neguse (D-CO), Chairwoman of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis Kathy Castor (D-FL), and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife Jared Huffman (D-CA) introduced the Carbon Cost Act, which would direct the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the National Academies of Science (NAS) to complete recommendations to Congress for establishing an entity responsible for analyzing how proposed Federal legislation is likely to impact the nation’s carbon emissions. Representatives Mike Levin (D-CA), Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Jason Crow (D-CO), and Diana DeGette (D-CO) have also co-sponsored the legislation. 

The Carbon Cost Act was inspired by legislation introduced in the Colorado General Assembly (HB19-1188) introduced by Sen. Mike Foote and Reps. Emily Sirota and Marc Snyder, which directed state legislative council staff to establish greenhouse gas emissions reports that use available data to assess whether a legislative measure is likely to directly cause a net increase or decrease in greenhouse gas pollution in the 10-year period following its enactment. That bill was signed into state law by Colorado Governor Jared Polis on June 29, 2019.

In June of 2020, the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, on which Congressman Neguse serves, released its Climate Action Plan, including a recommendation that Congress develop methodologies for considering the impacts of proposed legislation related to climate risk. According to the report, “Congress must ensure that it weighs the full benefits of climate action relative to the costs of inaction… Where existing benefit-cost methodologies are inadequate, the federal government should invest in scientific and economic research to improve these methodologies. In addition, lawmakers need access to adequate scientific and technical capacity to fully weigh the climate costs and benefits of proposed policies.”

Under the Carbon Cost Act, the GAO would be required to consider a number of factors in their study, including:

  • How to ensure the office or agency remains nonpartisan and science-focused;
  • How to involve appropriate experts in the analysis of projected greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Lessons that can be learned from State legislatures that have successfully implemented carbon scoring for legislative proposals.

“This legislation is an important step towards increasing our accountability in Congress to address the climate crisis. Understanding the impacts of proposed legislation on our nation’s carbon emissions will allow us to make smart, informed policy decisions that ensure future generations will inherit a stable climate with clean air and water,” said Congressman Neguse. “Our home state has a legacy as a leader in climate action, and I’m proud to bring this Colorado idea to Congress. The time is now to make these investments in our future planet. It’s the Colorado way.” 

“Congressman Neguse understands that climate change is an existential threat to our ecosystem — which means every public policy decision must work to combat this problem. Here in Colorado, we came up with a straightforward way to make sure we start evaluating the climate impact of legislation,” said Colorado State Representative Emily Sirota. “Congressman Neguse's Carbon Cost Act of 2020 is designed to make this the standard in Congress — as it must be. Before any legislation passes, lawmakers and the public need to know whether it will help or harm this must-win battle to reduce carbon emissions and save our planet.”

"I am very pleased to see Congressman Neguse take Colorado's greenhouse gas emissions tracking bill and take it to the federal level.  Knowing the climate effects of any pending bill is an important step to taking real climate action and reducing emissions,” said Colorado State Senator Mike Foote.

Knowledge is power,” said Congressman Huffman. “Just as each bill’s projected financial impact is of incredible importance, the total climate impact should be a serious consideration for lawmakers. Working with GAO to develop a carbon scoring entity will ensure that Congress can rise to the challenge of the climate crisis.”

“The climate crisis is the defining challenge of our time, and the American people deserve to know how each bill we introduce in Congress will affect our fight against this crisis,” said Congressman Levin. “I’m proud to partner with my friend Congressman Neguse on legislation that will begin the process of holding policymakers accountable for their role in protecting our planet and ensure that legislation is rooted in climate science.”

“Climate change is real. We see the effects to our environment and economy every day. That’s why I am a cosponsor of the Carbon Cost Act of 2020,” said Congressman Perlmutter. “It is time we study the impacts legislation can have on our carbon footprint. By assessing the environmental impact of legislation, Congress can make better decisions on fighting climate change to better help us protect our Colorado way of life.”

"Knowing how much pollution we're releasing is a key step toward cutting that pollution and leaving a legacy for future generations. Thank you to Congressman Neguse for bringing commonsense Colorado solutions to fight climate change to Washington, D.C." said Kelly Nordini, Executive Director of Conservation Colorado.