A group of former Republican officials will meet with White House staffers Wednesday to discuss replacing federal global warming regulations with a tax on carbon dioxide emissions.
The Climate Leadership Council proposes rolling back federal regulations in exchange for a carbon tax starting at $40 per ton that increases over time. The Council says it’s a way to fight global warming, spur green energy and shrink government.
“Many carbon tax proposals are revenue-neutral. This proposal goes one step further by shrinking the overall size of government and streamlining the regulatory state,” reads the Council’s plan.
It’s the latest salvo in the ongoing battle on the right over the use of a carbon tax to address global warming. Most Republicans reject a carbon tax, and President Trump said in a survey by the American Energy Alliance he opposed a carbon tax and the Obama administration’s “social cost of carbon” estimate.
But the Council’s grand compromise for a carbon tax may fall flat — Trump’s already promised to eliminate 75 percent of federal regulations and undo President Obama’s “Climate Action Plan.” Trump also promised to review the Obama administration’s 2009 endangerment finding that provides the legal justification for global warming rules.
So, what’s there to compromise on?
“If the Trump Administration were to endorse this idea, they would not only be breaking a campaign commitment, but would essentially be negotiating against themselves on regulations,” Tom Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance and former member of Trump’s transition team, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“That’s a bad deal,” Pyle said.
The Republican Party platform for 2016 also opposes carbon taxes, arguing it “would increase energy prices across the board, hitting hardest at the families who are already struggling to pay their bill in the Democrats’ no-growth economy.”
The Council is pitching the White House regardless. The Council includes former Secretary of State James Baker, former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, former cabinet official George Shultz, President Reagan economic adviser Marty Feldstein and President George W. bush economic adviser Greg Mankiw.
The Council likely hope they can influence Trump officials more amenable to their cause, like Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who supported a carbon tax while CEO of ExxonMobil.
Trump himself is a global warming skeptic. Trump’s been very public about his stance on global warming and recently told a candidate to be his top science adviser he agrees global warming is “exaggerated” and a “cult movement.”
Many conservatives have criticized a carbon tax, arguing it’s a “cure worse than the disease” because it would raise energy prices and be subject to political manipulation.
“Did they see that there was an election where the person who won said he was going to undo Obama’s climate regulations? Did they see who President Trump nominated to run the EPA?” Pyle said.
The Council argues a carbon tax would be in line with the “populist sentiment” Trump seized upon to win the 2016 election. Carbon tax revenues could be used to compensate Americans struggling to get by “based on the good behavior of minimizing our carbon footprints.on the good behavior of minimizing our carbon footprints.”
“This, for once, would tip the economic scales towards the interests of the little guy,” reads the Council’s plan.
But a carbon tax has not been an electoral success in other countries.
Australia voted in a conservative governing coalition in 2013 on the promise of repealing a carbon tax put in place by the country’s former Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Aussie lawmakers officially repealed the carbon tax in 2014 after it cost their economy an estimated $8.5 billion a year during its two years of life.
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