Pelosi Says House to Revisit Climate Plan Based on 2009 Bill

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. House will take up climate legislation, including a measure based on a bill the body approved last time Democrats were in the majority, said Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“We couldn’t pass in the Senate our climate bill, and we’ll be returning to that,” Pelosi said on Friday at a Trinity Washington University event for MSNBC’s “The Speaker” town hall broadcast.

While Pelosi didn’t elaborate, the measure that fits this description is the 2009 cap-and-trade legislation that narrowly passed by the House but died in the Senate, and would have imposed the nation’s first limits on greenhouse-gas emissions linked to global warming.

It also would have created a market for trading pollution permits to curb emissions, with the goal of reducing global warming greenhouse-gas emissions 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. It was panned at the time by business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as an unrealistic approach that would harm the economy and kill jobs.

In her remarks on Friday, Pelosi didn’t specify the approach the House would take this time around, and her office didn’t immediately respond to a request for more information -- including whether she intended to resurrect the cap-and-trade provision.

Consensus has been building over the past decade around an alternative approach: a tax on carbon with revenue distributed back to taxpayers. One approach advocated by lawmakers, including Florida Democratic Representative Ted Deutch, would apply a $15-per-metric-ton carbon fee to the U.S. oil, gas, and coal industries, but rebate all of the revenue as a dividend to households to shield them from increased fossil fuel costs related to the carbon fee.

“When I was speaker the first time, my flagship issue was climate,” Pelosi said during the event at her alma mater, citing legislation that passed and enabled higher emissions standards to be put into effect by prior presidents.

On Thursday Pelosi used her opening address as Speaker to put climate back on the agenda after eight years of Republican control. She called global warming “the existential threat of our time,” and has already resurrected a special committee to cast a spotlight on climate change. That gives Democrats a platform to explore an issue on which opinion polls show President Donald Trump is out of step with the public.

The urgency for Democrats is bolstered by record-breaking wildfires in the western U.S., a string of devastating hurricanes, and a landmark report released in November by the Trump administration that projected climate change will end up costing the U.S. economy hundreds of billions of dollars a year.

But it also comes with risks: Pelosi’s party lost control of the chamber after passing the landmark bill, and her party remains divided on how strongly to respond to global warming.

“We need to start fresh,” said Ohio Democratic Representative Marcy Kaptur. “This is a new Congress.”

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