Energy

White House Shoots Down Carbon Tax Rumors In The Press, Again

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor
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The White House shot down rumors Tuesday that administration officials were considering a tax on carbon dioxide emissions.

The Washington Post published a story on Tuesday citing two Trump administration officials who said a carbon tax and value added tax, or VAT, were under consideration as part of a broader tax reform plan. But the White House quickly disavowed the statements allegedly made by the two officials, marking the second time in three weeks the Trump administration has had to shoot down carbon tax rumors.

“As we have said many times, the President’s team is hearing input from experts on all sides of the tax reform debate as we formulate what will ultimately be the President’s plan to enact the first significant tax reform since 1986,” deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters said in a statement responding to WaPo’s story.

“As of now, neither a carbon tax nor a VAT are under consideration,” Walters said.

Walters told reporters in March the Trump administration “is not considering a carbon tax” after press secretary Sean Spicer waffled on the question. White House officials met with a group of Republicans who back a carbon tax in early February.

Spicer did not respond to a request for comment.

A small group of Republicans have been pushing a carbon tax for years, arguing it’s more efficient than federal regulations and could be used to offset revenue losses from reductions in tax rates.

Most recently, old guard Republicans on the Climate Leadership Council (CLC) met with White House officials to pitch a carbon tax that would start at $40 per ton and rise over the years. CLC says the tax could replace federal regulations and the revenues could be given back to Americans in the form of “dividends.”

“Many carbon tax proposals are revenue-neutral,” reads the Council’s plan. “This proposal goes one step further by shrinking the overall size of government and streamlining the regulatory state.”

The meeting sparked speculation that the White House was considering a carbon tax as part of a broader tax reform plan. Many carbon tax plans claim to raise $1 trillion over ten years.

The White House has shot down such speculation, but some administration officials seem intent on telling media outlets a carbon tax is still being considered.

Most Republicans don’t buy into a carbon tax. They argue it’s not very conservative to back what would essentially amount to a tax on energy, which would effectively raise the price of all goods and services.

President Donald Trump told the American Energy Alliance in a survey taken during the campaign that he opposed a carbon tax and the Obama administration’s “social cost of carbon” estimate.

Trump signed an executive order in late March rescinding the Obama administration’s “social cost of carbon” estimate. Trump also ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to review and possibly rescind the Clean Power Plan — the cornerstone of the former administration’s global warming agenda.

Conservative activists point out there’s no deal to be made on trading federal environmental regulations for a carbon tax since Trump’s already promised to roll back 75 percent of federal rules.

“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,” said Tom Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance and former member of Trump’s transition team.

“That’s a bad deal,” Pyle said.

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