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Conservatives rally behind anti-carbon tax resolution

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Michael Bastasch Contributor
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Conservatives are rallying behind a resolution that expresses opposition to taxing carbon emissions.

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) introduced the resolution last month, which now has 133 cosponsors — all Republican. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) introduced a similar resolution in the Senate earlier this year. It has 19 Republican cosponsors.

Conservative groups also joined in the fray and sent a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), urging them to bring the resolution to a floor vote.

“A carbon tax would increase energy prices by design, exacerbating pain at the pump and raising the price of electricity and home heating fuels,” reads a letter signed by 20 conservative groups, led by the American Energy Alliance. “The poorest Americans would be hit the hardest because they spend the largest share of their income on energy. People on fixed incomes would take a terrible financial hit as they would be forced to pay more for energy.”

The left is pushing a carbon tax to address global warming while also reducing the deficit. Earlier this year, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Sen. Bernie Sander (Ind-Vt.), who caucuses with Senate Democrats,  introduced a bill that would slap a gradually rising tax on carbon emissions, which would be used to fund green energy projects.

Recently, the Congressional Budget Office found that $20 per ton of carbon would reduce emissions an additional 8 percent by 2021.

“Indeed, within twenty years a modest carbon tax can reduce annual emissions by 12 percent from baseline levels, generate enough revenue to lower the corporate income tax rate by 7 percentage points, and decrease the deficit by $815 billion, all while protecting the poorest households from undue burden,” according to the left-leaning Brookings Institution.

Some conservatives look at a carbon tax as a solution to global warming and deficit woes. Former South Carolina Republican Rep. Bob Inglis has been pushing a carbon tax. Inglis said that there is growing support for a carbon tax among younger conservatives.

“Well, I’ve spent a lot of time on college campuses at College Republicans, Federalist Societies at law schools, energy clubs at business schools, and they all get it,” he said, adding that conservative academics including Mitt Romney’s former economic adviser Gregory Mankiw, economist Art Laffer and Ronald Reagan’s former Secretary of State George Shultz all have expressed support for a carbon tax.

However, Republicans on the Hill have voiced strong opposition against such a tax.

“It’s not just energy prices that would skyrocket from a carbon tax, the cost of nearly everything built in America would go up,” Vitter said. “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.”

A study by the Institute for Energy Research found that a revenue-neutral carbon tax would be a “cure worse than the disease.”

“The dismal record of the U.S. government in implementing efficient climate change policies is hardly evidence in favor of a massive new carbon tax (or cap-and-trade program),” said the study’s author, IER senior economist Robert Murphy in an accompanying statement. “[S]uch a new program will be abused in the political process, and will not be tailored to the recommendations of climate scientists and environmental economists.”

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