South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said he was working with a Democratic colleague on legislation to put a “price on carbon” dioxide emissions to fight global warming.
“I’m a Republican. I believe that the greenhouse effect is real, that CO2 emissions generated by man is creating our greenhouse gas effect that traps heat, and the planet is warming,” Graham told an audience at a Yale University event hosted by former Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday.
“A price on carbon—that’s the way to go in my view,” Graham said, according to Time.
Graham is working with Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse on carbon tax legislation, making him one of the few Republicans — possibly the only in the Senate — to explicitly endorse a carbon tax. Graham also worked with Democrats on cap-and-trade legislation in 2010.
Carbon tax legislation is still unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled Congress, but activists will no doubt see Graham’s endorsement as a big win.
Sen. Whitehouse introduced carbon tax legislation with Democratic Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz in July to tax emissions at $49 per ton in 2018. The rising tax is expected to raise $2.1 trillion over 10 years, they said, which would be used to lower corporate taxes and pay for more tax credits.
Whitehouse and Schatz both said they were in talks on carbon tax legislation with several Republican lawmakers in both chambers of Congress.
Graham is apparently one of those pro-carbon tax Republicans. There are also 28 Republican lawmakers on the House Climate Solutions Caucus that have so far been silent on a carbon tax but could possibly be convinced to support such a policy.
“We are in multiple productive conversations with Republicans in both chambers,” Schatz said at an event held at the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI).
Republicans passed a party platform in 2016 that opposed global warming taxes. President Donald Trump also came out against a carbon tax on the campaign trail. Conservative groups oppose the tax largely on grounds that it would grow the government and raise energy prices.
Graham is bucking his party on the issue, joining a small group of former GOP officials who have endorsed a carbon tax.
Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain also spoke at Kerry’s event, but he did not explicitly endorse a carbon tax, Time reported.
Most Republicans do not support taxing carbon dioxide. The tax would raise energy prices, and therefore, the price of most goods Americans buy everyday. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign didn’t propose a carbon tax, in part, because higher energy costs didn’t poll well.
Earlier this year, a group of former GOP officials with the Climate Leadership Council (CLC) met with White House officials to push their own carbon tax plan — one that looks very similar to one Clinton toyed with.
CLC’s proposed a “gradually rising and revenue-neutral carbon tax,” starting at $40 per ton, which would pay out “dividend payments to all Americans, funded by 100% of the revenue.” CLC hopes a carbon tax could be part of some broader deal to cut corporate tax rates and reduce regulations.
CLC is a strategic partner with the World Resources Institute (WRI), an environmental group, and is funded by major oil companies, including BP, ExxonMobil, Total and Royal Dutch Shell.
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