Conservatives for carbon tax campaign faltering

Michael Bastasch | Contributor

Though some have tried to make a conservative case for a carbon support, there is little evidence many conservatives or Republicans actually support the idea.

In early August, members of the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council overwhelmingly shot down an attempt by a representative from the R Street Institute to push a carbon tax, sources told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The R Street bills itself as an organization that supports “limited, effective government, and responsible environmental stewardship.” The group supports a revenue-neutral carbon tax under some conditions.

This vote against a carbon tax in an ALEC meeting in Chicago about two weeks ago comes after Republicans in both the House and the Senate voted unanimously against a carbon tax earlier this year.

“President Obama’s plan to impose a tax on carbon would cause household electricity rates to skyrocket while destroying millions of American jobs,” said Louisiana Republican Rep. Steve Scalise. “The Obama Administration has used every trick in the book to implement its radical agenda through back door regulations.”

The R Street representative proposed an amendment to an ALEC “model resolution” opposing a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, sources said, which would have changed the wording of the bill to say that the group was not opposed to a “revenue-neutral” carbon tax — meaning ALEC would not oppose carbon taxes that don’t change the revenues raised by the government.

R Street’s representative in attendance was the only person in favor of it, but could not get anyone else to support the amendment, losing by more than 100 votes. According to sources, the anti-carbon tax resolution would have been defeated if the R Street amendment was adopted.

ALEC represents more than 2000 Republican and Democratic state legislators and a number of businesses and nonprofits. ALEC’s anti-carbon tax amendment passed out of the necessary committees and is awaiting approval from the group’s board. If it is approved, ALEC will be opposed to a carbon tax on the federal and state level.

There have been reports of growing interest in a carbon tax among Republican lawmakers. The New York Times recently ran an op-ed by former Republican Environmental Protection Agency administrators in favor of a carbon tax.

“A market-based approach, like a carbon tax, would be the best path to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, but that is unachievable in the current political gridlock in Washington,” write the administrators, who argue that political gridlock makes the idea politically untenable.

Aargh Street Borg

The former EPA heads aren’t far off the mark, as both houses of congress have voted in opposition of carbon taxes.

In March, the Senate voted 58 to 41 against a proposal by Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse that would have given revenues raised from taxing carbon emissions to the public through “deficit reduction, reducing other rates and other ‘direct’ benefits,” reports the Hill newspaper. Thirteen Democrats joined Republicans in shutting down the bill.

However, another proposal by Missouri Republican Sen. Roy Blunt to make sure any carbon tax legislation would need 60 votes to pass in the Senate drew a “procedural protest that itself would have required 60 votes to overcome, and only got 53 ‘yes’ votes — a majority, but not enough,” reports the Hill. Blunt got eight eight Democrats to join him.

At the end of July, the House passed two anti-carbon tax amendments. First, the House passed an amendment to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from using the “social cost of carbon” rule to justify new regulations without congressional approval.

Second, the chamber passed another amendment introduced by Scalise that broadened the reach of congressional approval for “any rule that implements or provides for the imposition or collection of a tax on carbon emissions.”

“Unfortunately, the Obama Administration is implementing a number of regulations to raise energy costs.  A strong vote for the Scalise anti-carbon tax amendment should be just the first step in the House’s efforts to block and de-fund President Obama’s radical climate agenda,” said Myron Ebell, president of Freedom Action.

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