Will GOP ‘Climate Caucus’ Members Support A Dem Carbon Tax Bill?

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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Democratic senators reintroduced legislation Wednesday to fight global warming by taxing carbon dioxide emissions, in the hopes that some climate-fearing Republicans will offer support.

Democratic Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Brian Schatz of Hawaii announced new carbon tax legislation at an American Enterprise Institute (AEI) event as part of a broader effort to get conservatives on board with taxing emissions.

Most Republicans oppose carbon taxes, but a few have joined the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus to find “economically-viable options” to global warming. To most Republicans, the Whitehouse-Schatz bill is a $2 trillion tax and wealth redistribution scheme.

Climate Caucus co-chairs were silent on their support of the Senate carbon tax bill, but some self-described conservative groups said they’d work with the caucus to get the bill passed.

“This will be something we will work on with the Climate Solutions Caucus,” Benjamin Backer, president of the American Conservation Coalition (ACC), told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

ACC bills itself as a conservative group that pushes “free-market” solutions to global warming. The group’s website says its goal is to “actively expand this important bloc of environmentally oriented conservatives,” referring to the Climate Caucus.

“We also really appreciate the revenue neutrality of this legislation and hope it goes through,” Backer said.

The Citizen’s Climate Lobby (CCL), which played a major role in creating the Climate Solutions Caucus, wasn’t sure if it would support the Whitehouse-Schatz carbon tax bill.

“It’s encouraging that Whitehouse and Schatz are presenting their bill at the American Enterprise Institute,” CCL spokesman Steve Valk told TheDCNF. “It shows that market-based approaches to solving climate change are gaining traction across the political spectrum.”

The Whitehouse-Schatz bill is nearly identical to one they proposed in 2015, which they also introduced at AEI. The senators said their bill would reduce carbon dioxide emissions 40 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 and raise $2 trillion over 10 years.

The party’s 2016 platform argued that carbon taxes 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 Trump administration has also rejected calls for a carbon tax from a small band of right-leaning activists and former Republican officials.

Valk refers to it as a “carbon fee” because their proposal calls for dividends to be handed out to Americans to offset higher energy bills.

“As former Reagan Secretary of State George Shultz has said, ‘It’s not a tax if you give the money back to the people,’ which is what our proposal calls for,” Valk said, referring to CCL’s own carbon tax plan.

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