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GOP congressman says Exxon Mobil ‘not very serious’ about carbon tax

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor
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Just one day after it was reported that Michigan Republican Rep. and House energy and commerce committee chairman Fred Upton said oil company Exxon Mobil was not “very serious” about promoting a federal carbon tax, the company declared it would not support a carbon tax if “the policy objective is to raise revenue.”

“I don’t think it is a very serious effort on their part,” Upton told Fox News. “We’re going to do our very best to make sure that this is not a mole that pops up again.”

On Tuesday, Politico reported that Exxon said it didn’t support implementing a carbon tax as a revenue-raising measure to help avoid the fiscal cliff. Instead, the company emphasized that it would only advocate a carbon tax as a way to address climate change.

“If the policy objective is to raise revenue, it’s not on the table,” said Ken Cohen, the company’s vice president of public and government affairs. “If the policy objective is to put a cost on the use of carbon to discourage its use, then we believe that a revenue-neutral carbon tax should be very much on the table.”

Exxon has supported a carbon tax since at least 2009. The idea has also drawn support from some prominent conservatives, including economist Arthur Laffer and former George W. Bush economic adviser Gregory Mankiw.

Former South Carolina Republican Rep. Bob Inglis founded a group that is pushing for a carbon tax, which would be offset by a lower income tax.

Last month, the conservative American Enterprise Institute co-hosted an event with the Brookings Institution, the International Monetary Fund and Resources for the Future about the economics of carbon taxes. The event  included a keynote speaker from the Obama Treasury Department.

The Obama administration has said it will not put forward a carbon tax proposal, but would be willing to support such a proposal if it came from the GOP.

However, support among Republicans on Capitol Hill for a federal carbon tax is nearly nonexistent, and GOP leaders have firmly rejected the idea.

“It is not going to come from the Republicans,” Upton said. “We are going to do our very best to make sure that this is not a mole that pops up again.”

“We, as Americans, would pay a higher cost, and none of the rest of the world would. Talk about a bad idea,” he added.

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