Mark's Stance on The Environment

I support re-joining the Paris Climate Agreement (“UNFCCC”). This would be a top priority for me as your senator, AND there’s no down side to the U.S. to participate. President Trump’s disbelief in climate change reflects an area of unusual agreement between the president and elected Republicans, whose track record of climate change denialism is plain and long. I believe there needs to be a robust debate on climate change that leads to a common sense solution rather than “kickin’the can down the road.” 


As you know, climate change is primarily a problem of too much carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. This carbon overload is caused mainly when we burn fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas or cut down and burn forests. A 2017 study by the Brookings Institution found that the carbon-tax (“tax” and “fees” are one in the same) burden would comprise 3.5% of the income of the poorest decile of households and only 0.6% of the income of the highest decile. For low-income workers, particularly those living paycheck-to-paycheck, such a tax/fee – which would mean higher prices for nearly everything – would impose a major burden, which I don’t support. Higher energy prices would be particularly burdensome, and the payments less likely to fully cover the costs for workers and tradesmen who live in rural areas and must drive long distances to get to and from their job sites.


Further, a carbon tax would be targeted by armies of lobbyists, with some aiming to kill it and others aiming to get a dispensation. This would be a hard battle for one senator unless I was able to convince other senators to join me. You may recall that in 1993, the Clinton administration abandon the Btu tax because it had underestimated “the opposition the tax would face from manufacturers, farmers, and the energy industry.” In November 2018, voters in Washington State defeated a carbon-tax proposal known as Initiative 1631 by a wide margin. That tax would have exempted aviation and maritime fuel, as well as “energy intensive, trade-dependent” businesses such as steel plants, aluminum producers, and pulp and paper mills.


Therefore, while I believe carbon dioxide is trashing our atmosphere, I will need to study and propose a common sense solution whereby it does not harm low-income workers. To be sure, this is a top priority for me!


I can 100% make this guarantee to the people of Texas. The oil, gas, and coal industries, which together are some of the most influential donors to Senator Cornyn having donated $10,694,284 to 22 senators, including Senator Cornyn, who received roughly $1.2 million – 11% of the total. I will NOT accept a dime from ANY special interest group, including the oil, gas, and coal industries.