The U.S. House demonstrated last week that the politics of climate solutions remain intractable. With bipartisan support, lawmakers overwhelmingly passed a resolution describing a carbon tax as, “not in the best interest of the United States.”

While R Street considers the vote to be an unwise obstacle to future debate on how best to repeal damaging Environmental Protection Agency regulations, it’s clear the appetite for legislative activity explicitly to rein in carbon emissions isn’t yet here.

Supporters of a carbon tax tout the incentive for innovation such a tax would provide. But even without an explicit price on carbon, there’s plenty for Congress to do. Our cumbersome, piecemeal energy policies hold back competition, creativity and progress. While many Republicans are understandably skeptical of plans to layer a carbon tax on top of this quagmire, cleaning out the muck and modernizing our energy sector will ensure the market is better equipped to deal with a carbon-constrained future.

American energy policy largely was devised when the United States feared energy scarcity and mainstream renewable alternatives were too risky and expensive to attract investment. These policies are now hopelessly outdated. American ingenuity in oil-and-gas development has caused a worldwide oil glut and wind-and-solar executives now say they can do without government subsidies. There are a few obvious places to start to clean up energy policy, and none of them have to do with carbon.

Here are six items the House and Senate can take up to make energy markets healthier, expand consumer choice and get government out of the way of our innovative energy sector.

The House and Senate are about to go to conference on a sweeping energy package for the first time since 2007. The appetite for energy legislation is greater than it’s been in a decade. If that momentum can’t be focused to limit the EPA’s damaging regulatory overreach in carbon, it should push for commonsense steps that will encourage the market to solve our biggest energy challenges.

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