Energy

Conservative Activist Calls Oil Company Support For Carbon Taxes A Form Of Cronyism

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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Conservative activist and former politician Ken Blackwell called oil company support for a carbon tax nothing short of “crony capitalism” and “rent seeking.”

Blackwell rhetorically asks in an editorial at the Washington Examiner Thursday if a letter signed by some of the world’s largest oil companies is “a sign that even they have seen the light on climate, or might there be something else happening?”

Ten of the world’s largest oil companies – BP, Royal Dutch Shell, and Total, among others – acknowledged in a letter to U.N. climate official Christiana Figueres last May they are joining an initiative calling for carbon pricing which would be pushed using taxes.

Most of the signers are international companies. But one big U.S. oil company — ExxonMobil — penned a blog post in December highlighting the company’s desire to see taxes placed on carbon emissions.

Some media outfits praised the letter and called it the right approach.

The editorial board at BloombergView in June called the letter a good first step for the oil companies.

“Their argument should resonate in Washington: “Clear, stable, long-term” policies that make carbon more expensive (the letter never uses the word “tax”) are necessary to reduce uncertainty, stimulate investment and encourage the most efficient reductions in emissions,” BloomberView wrote.

The editorial board added: “It’s becoming increasingly clear that voters and companies alike are ready for a carbon tax. Nobody wins by waiting.”

It makes sense that renewable energy companies would want a tax on carbon, Blackwell writes in the editorial, adding they hope to put the screws to the competitors in the fossil fuel industry.

Elon Musk wants a “tax on carbon so that oil, gas and coal become artificially more expensive and in turn make wind and solar alternatives more financially attractive in comparison,” Blackwell continues. The renewable crowd supporting carbon taxes is full of crony capitalists, he suggests, and creates “dramatic market distortions.”

But what about oil companies?

They are now natural gas companies, Blackwell explains, so advocating a carbon tax would naturally give them an “edge” over the competition – coal companies.

The former secretary of the state of Ohio pointed to a section of the companies’ letter where it notes a carbon tax would “help stimulate investments in the right low carbon technologies and the right resources at the right pace.”

Blackwell concluded his editorial with a plea to Republicans to stop any attempts to tax carbon.

“If Republicans want any credibility to reform entitlement spending, they must first reject this type of corporate welfare. Killing any attempts to tax carbon would be a great place to start,” he writes.

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