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Larson Continues Push For Carbon Tax In Congress, Massive Tunnel In Hartford

Ryan Caron King
Connecticut Public Radio
A portion of the I-84 viaduct in downtown Hartford, Conn.

Representative John Larson took to the banks of the Connecticut River Monday to promote federal legislation he said will strengthen roads and bridges while taxing polluters and providing rebates to American taxpayers. 

Larson reintroduced his "America Wins Act" this August, which calls for a federal infrastructure investment of more than $1 trillion over the next decade. 

He said the investments would be fully paid for by a tax on major energy companies, based on their carbon emissions.

"Infrastructure and the environment are neither Republican or Democrat. They’re American priorities," Larson said.

The First District Democratic Congressman introduced a similar bill last session, but it was never taken up in a then Republican-controlled House. 

Democrats are now in the majority, but it's unclear what, if any, form the bill could take to find its way through a Republican controlled Senate.

Larson said his carbon tax idea would raise more than double the amount of money needed for his proposed ten-year investment. A spokesperson in his office said the bill works by taxing energy companies $52 for every ton of carbon emissions that will be released when that energy is used. When adjusting over time for inflation, it’s expected to raise an estimated $2.3 trillion over ten years.

"For decades our lack of planning on [infrastructure] has caused our environment and people to suffer," Larson said. "Across the country there are projects that can rectify this. The I-84/91 tunnel proposal is just one example."

In an op-ed released last year, Larson said it’s "time for the Hartford region to think big again," and said he supports reconstructing a controversial portion of I-84/91 as a tunnel. 

Larson said the tunnel would reunite parts of Hartford currently bifurcated by a decades-old raised viaduct that cuts through the center of the city.

But as the CT Mirror noted, state traffic engineers have questioned the feasibility of the tunnel idea. 

In addition to fixing roads and bridges, carbon-tax money from Larson’s federal proposal would also be spent on energy research, community support, and rebates to low-and-middle class Americans.

The bill now sits before several House committees.

Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached at pskahill@ctpublic.org.

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