Maryland Democrat introduces congressional bill to address carbon

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) has proposed a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives to slash carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions over time by setting a cap and selling CO2 permits.

Van Hollen said Feb. 24 that he was introducing the Healthy Climate and Family Security Act to gradually but steadily reduce CO2 emissions via auctions and issuing carbon pollution permits to the first sellers of oil, coal, and natural. The proposal would return 100% of the auction proceeds electronically each quarter to every American with a valid Social Security number in the form of a Healthy Climate Dividend.

Van Hollen, who co-chairs the Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change and member of the Safe Climate Caucus and the Sustainable Energy and Environment, said the bill would use a declining cap to reduce C02 emissions to 80% below 2005 levels by 2050.

The bill stipulates that the quantity of carbon permits issued for 2017 would be equal to 12.5% less than the number of metric tons of CO2 emitted in the United States in 2005.

By 2020 the permits available would be equal to 20% less than 2005 levels and, by 2025, 30% less than 2005 levels. In 2030 the permits available would be equal to 40% less than CO2 metric tons emitted in 2005.

In other words, it appears that the reductions would be more stringent than what is currently proposed in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Power Plan.

Van Hollen said the measure has more than a dozen original co-sponsors.

The “cap and dividend” approach should enable the United States to achieve scientifically driven reductions in greenhouse gas emissions while supporting vibrant economic growth and actually increasing incomes for an estimated 80% of American households, Van Hollen said.

“Two of the most pressing challenges we face as a country are the economic and health risks of climate change and the middle class squeeze, and this bill offers a way to address both,” said Van Hollen. “This approach achieves necessary greenhouse gas reductions while boosting the purchasing power of families across the country. This bill is good for the climate, good for families, and good for the economy.”

The Sierra Club has thrown its support behind the Van Hollen bill. It also has the support of Founder Bill McKibben. McKibben is a leading voice in reducing use of fossil fuels.

A National Mining Association (NMA) spokesperson said the coal trade group does not currently have a position on the Van Hollen bill specifically. “But our view is that Congress has repeatedly rejected a nationwide cap and trade system as too costly. We agree with that judgment shared by members of both parties,” said the NMA representative.

The last major carbon reduction bill proposed in Congress was probably the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, also known as the Waxman-Markey bill. The bill was approved by the House of Representatives in June 2009 but was defeated in the Senate.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at