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Senator Barbara Boxer introduces carbon tax bill with little hope of GOP support

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Jason DeFillippo via Flickr

US Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has introduced a climate change bill that echoes some of President Obama's policy prescriptions from his State of the Union address.

In his State of the Union address, President Obama urged Congress to take action on climate change.  Today, California’s junior U.S. Senator outlined her bill to tax carbon emissions and invest in saving energy.  It won't be easy to rally GOP support for the measure.

The legislation would create a $20-per-ton fee on the carbon top polluters discharge. The federal government would spend part of the estimated $1.2 trillion it generates over a decade to weatherize homes and to triple the budget for energy research. Republican support is unlikely - but the climate change bill’s co-sponsor, Democrat Barbara Boxer, says it took more than 10 years to pass the federal Clean Air Act. "We don’t give up," she says, "and we won’t give up because you could pull the covers over your head and say this isn’t happening, but Mother Nature is proving to us constantly that it is happening."

President Obama said if Congress failed to act, he'd apply his executive power to battle global warming.  The Senate’s Number 3 Republican, South Dakota’s John Thune, predicts that bypassing Congress wouldn’t “go over well” with the American people.

But Boxer defended the President’s power to take action, saying the Clean Air Act is the law of the land and the executive has no option but to carry out the law. "If they don’t,"  she says, gesturing  to half a dozen environmental leaders who'd gathered to support her bill, "these folks here are going to take him to court, which they’ve done on many other issues and won a lot of these cases."

Boxer plans hearings this spring in the committee she chairs, Environment and Public Works. She hopes to deliver the measure to the floor for a Senate vote this summer. A climate change bill passed the then-Democratically-led House in 2010 but died in the Senate. 

This Sunday, environmentalists from around the country plan a march from the Washington Monument to the White House to push for federal action on climate change.


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