As a Republican from Pennsylvania and a Democrat from Delaware, we have more in common than you might expect. Aside from a shared devotion to the Philadelphia Eagles, we both believe that Congress can and must do more to combat climate change and rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.
These two issues go hand in hand and have the potential to shape our communities and our country for decades. Climate change is already costing our economy through increased flooding, more severe storms, and devastating droughts. Delaware’s and Pennsylvania’s 1st Congressional District are about 40 miles apart, but they both border the Delaware River and are home to communities, including Levittown and Wilmington, that are at significant risk of damaging floods in the near future.
Extreme weather is also impacting the efficiency and safety of our ports, roads, and other infrastructure, which are already in need of repair. In Pennsylvania, our bridges rank as some of the worst in the country. Every one of us has blown or damaged a tire on our roads due to the growing number of potholes. Flooding and hurricanes are hitting our communities in both Pennsylvania and Delaware more often, inundating our roads, homes, and businesses. The Delaware Department of Transportation has estimated that it will cost nearly $1.5 billion to sustain the state’s most vulnerable roads and bridges in the coming years.
We can and should tackle both problems. That’s why we have each introduced legislation proposing a price on carbon to curb harmful emissions that are causing climate change and to invest in infrastructure here at home. HR 4520 would impose a tax on the greenhouse gas emissions of fossil fuels. S 2284 would impose a carbon fee on the use, sale, or transfer of certain fossil fuels and fluorinated gases that emit greenhouse gases.
Business leaders, economists, and a growing number of Republicans and Democrats agree that placing a price on carbon is the most efficient, market-based approach to fighting climate change while growing the economy and creating jobs. We’re convinced that a carbon price will level the economic playing field in the energy sector, power market-driven innovation, and lead to the deployment of technologies that will reduce or eliminate emissions of greenhouse gases.
We’ve both introduced legislation to use revenues from carbon fees paid by polluters to make substantial, much-needed investments in infrastructure in our region and across the country, which is more important than ever at a time when discussion around a national infrastructure package has ground to a halt.
Building a more sustainable infrastructure will create and support jobs across a wide range of sectors — from trades professionals to construct and maintain our clean energy infrastructure, to scientists and engineers to design new technologies.
The bottom line is that we don’t need to choose between clean energy and economic growth, or between combating climate change and creating jobs. We can and should do both.
Seven in 10 Americans are concerned about climate change, more than ever before, and an overwhelming majority of young Americans, regardless of their political affiliation, support policies that reduce carbon emissions. American businesses, from large oil and power companies to small manufacturers and service providers, have united to call on Congress to enact a federal carbon price.
Momentum is building on both sides of the aisle for practical, bipartisan solutions to combat climate change. As a Republican and a Democrat, we both know the time to act is now. We know that while we’re at it, we can create new jobs, build a 21st-century infrastructure, and bring our two political parties together to finally get something done.
Sen. Chris Coons is a Democrat representing Delaware. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick is a Republican representing parts of Southeastern Pennsylvania.