Treasury nominee: No carbon tax from the White House

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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Treasury secretary nominee Jack Lew said that President Barack Obama will not propose a carbon tax, despite promising to tackle climate during his second term and expressing his support for a “market-based solution” to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

“Given the enormous tax increase that would result from a carbon tax, how would you advise the president to use carbon tax revenues? What would your highest priorities be?” Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, the ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee, asked Lew.

Hatch criticized the idea of a carbon tax in his written questions, and cited President Obama’s promise to address climate change in his second term, saying that “a carbon tax is one of the options that President Obama could pursue.”

“The administration has not proposed a carbon tax, nor is it planning to do so,” Lew wrote in his written responses to Hatch. The Finance Committee is scheduled to vote on Lew’s nomination Tuesday.

The Hill reports that Lew declined to “get into the idea, offering his one sentence vow and leaving it at that.”

Recently, liberal senators moved to introduce climate legislation that would put a price on carbon dioxide emissions that would fund green-energy projects such as wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass.

“It can reverse greenhouse gas emissions in a significant way,” said Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, who introduced the bill with California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer. “It can create millions of jobs as we transform our energy system away from fossil fuel and into energy efficiency and such sustainably energies as wind, solar, geothermal and biomass.”

However, a carbon tax has been resisted by congressional Republicans, who argue it will essentially raise the cost of living for Americans.

“It’s not just energy prices that would skyrocket from a carbon tax, the cost of nearly everything built in America would go up,” said Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter. “Let’s not lose sight of how big of a dud cap and trade was in 2009, or as it came to be known, cap and tax. This is really no different.”

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