The head of a pro-carbon tax group claims “behind closed doors” there’s “a lot of interest” in taxing carbon dioxide emissions among Republican lawmakers.
“Behind closed doors there’s a lot of interest in what we are proposing,” Ted Halstead, executive director of the Climate Leadership Council, told Axios on Tuesday.
Halstead’s group includes former Republican officials who support using a carbon tax to fight global warming and create a vast new welfare system to offset higher energy costs. CLC met with White House officials earlier this year to present their carbon tax plan.
Halstead isn’t the first to suggest GOP lawmakers secretly favor a carbon tax. Democratic Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Brian Schatz of Hawaii suggested between six and 10 Republicans support taxing carbon dioxide.
Though, so far, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham is the only GOP lawmaker to endorse a “price on carbon.” Graham told a Yale University audience he was working with Whitehouse on carbon tax legislation.
“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 said at an 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.
Conservative activists said Graham’s support means little since he has a history of joining with Democrats on climate issues.
“This is the same Lindsey Graham who was censured in his home state for teaming up with John Kerry to try and pass a cap and trade scheme in the beginning of the Obama presidency,” Tom Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“We welcome a vote on a carbon tax so we can finally see where the Senate stands on the issue,” Pyle said. “Up to this point, the pro carbon tax crowd have done nothing but talk.”
Either way, a carbon tax bill is still not likely to pass Congress.
Republicans explicitly opposed a carbon tax in their 2016 platform, and President Donald Trump came out against the policy on the campaign trail.
Still, carbon tax reporters see it as a baby step in the right direction. CLC has kept up the pressure on Republicans to adopt their plan of a gradually rising carbon tax that would start at $40 a ton.
Revenues would be handed back to Americans as part of an extensive welfare program to offset higher energy costs. CLC’s plan also calls for cutting environmental regulations and income and business taxes.
Graham was one of several Republicans who worked with Democrats on global warming legislation early in President Barack Obama’s time in office. Graham initially supported a 2010 cap-and-trade, but bailed on the policy once the public caught on.
Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Susan Collins of Maine have also put forward legislation to limit carbon dioxide emissions. Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona co-sponsored a 2009 carbon tax bill while in the House.
“His plan will only make the government richer and his constituents poorer,” Pyle said of Graham. “It was wrong then and is just as wrong today.”
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