The Hill: Energy companies praise GOP lawmaker’s carbon tax bill

A group of companies in oil, natural gas, chemical manufacturing, utilities and other industries are praising a Republican lawmaker’s legislation to impose a carbon tax.

Companies including BP America, Shell, PG&E Corp., Dow Chemical Co., DuPont, Equinor US, National Grid and General Motors signed onto a letterWednesday to Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) that stopped short of endorsing the bill, but called it a welcome development toward meaningful climate change legislation.

Time: Why Some Republicans are Rethinking Climate Change


July 26, 2018

The Republican Party questions the science of climate change and the need to address it more than any other party in the Western world. Which is what made a rare moment of dissension this week so remarkable.

On July 23, Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida introduced carbon tax legislation that would require companies to pay for emitting carbon dioxide and then allow the government to use the proceeds to fund an infrastructure program. The effort, co-sponsored by GOP Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, is going nowhere in this GOP Congress. Just four days earlier the House passed a resolution condemning a carbon tax as “detrimental” to the U.S. economy, which only six Republicans opposed.

But the dueling GOP takes on a carbon tax highlight the growing likelihood of a clash within the party. Climate change isn’t going anywhere as a political issue, as intense heat waves and storms become more frequent and voters and businesses increasingly demand solutions. As a result, some conservatives say, Republicans may soon face a choice: propose realistic conservative solutions to the problem, or lose relevance.

“The pendulum will swing,” says former South Carolina congressman Bob Inglis, a Republican who runs RepublicEn, a non-profit advocating for conservative solutions to environmental issues. “And when that pendulum swings…it may just be the solution you don’t want on climate.”

The business world may help shape the party’s internal debate. Big corporations have shifted gears in their approach to climate issues, including many in industries that traditionally support the GOP. In response to Curbelo’s proposal, three leading oil and gas companies—Shell, Equinor and BP America—joined a slew of other corporations to pen a letter expressing support for a carbon tax. “We welcome your demonstrated commitment to finding common ground on federal policies that can mitigate the effects of climate change,” says the letter.

Other significant energy players that did not sign on to the letter, like ExxonMobil and Total, have also endorsed a carbon tax as the most efficient way to address global warming. Yet most of these companies have not investing in lobbying Congress on the issue. And the most prominent trade groups —such as the influential American Petroleum Institute—have not supported such a move. “ExxonMobil has 100 things they want from U.S. Congress,” says Inglis. “A carbon tax is probably [number] 97.”

Indeed, a carbon tax is likely not something that those players want to happen anytime soon, but rather a potential compromise if climate change regulation comes to seem inevitable. Around the globe, developed and developing countries have enacted measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It may not happen during the Trump administration, but most energy experts expect the U.S. will be forced to do the same. When that happens, big businesses prefer a simple measure like a carbon tax over complicated regulation.

That’s part of the reason why companies committed early to the Paris Agreement and have sought to keep a seat at the table in international climate-change discussions. “If you’re a corporation you’re going to look at this really objectively,” says George David Banks, former international energy advisor in the Trump administration. “Climate policy is not going away. You have to factor that in. You have to plan for it.”

At the same time, Republicans face a changing political reality: younger voters are more likely than their older counterparts to say that climate change is happening and must be addressed. Polling from earlier this year released by the Alliance for Market Solutions found that more than half of young Republicans are concerned about the issue. Nearly a quarter of people under 30 who identified as Republican in 2015 have already left the party, according to the Pew Research Center.

“When you see young people signing up from both parties,” former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz said earlier this year, referring to college Republicans supporting a carbon tax, “that’s a signal that the future wants to have action now.”

None of this means Republicans are anywhere near passing meaningful climate change legislation. President Trump has called global warming a “hoax,” and many top Republicans in the White House and in Congress are skeptical about the science of climate change, raising questions about its severity or outright denying it. Many Republicans also still depend on support from business interests—such as the coal and manufacturing industries—that see climate change regulation as a threat. Those industries might not weigh in publicly, but independent groups that pour money into Congressional races have the potential to punish candidates who fall out of line.

But it’s clear that more Republicans have realized that the topic isn’t going away. Forty-three Republicans have joined the Climate Solutions Caucus, a bipartisan group in the House meant to foster discussion on the issue. Right now the majority of its Republican members continue to oppose many meaningful climate measures, but they insist that climate change is real and that they want to do something about it. Even that position is inconsistent with Trump’s and those of many party elders. “We’re seeing trends in the House that should give us all hope,” Curbelo said Monday.

No one expects the party to change overnight. But a shift in political winds, like a new administration, could quickly accelerate the climate conversation, prompting Republicans to reckon with the party’s stance on the subject. “These moments can come about, as I know from my time in government, sooner than people think,” former Obama energy advisor Jason Bordoff, director of Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy, said Monday. “We want to make sure when that moment comes we’re ready.”


New York Times: Congress and a Carbon Fee

By William C. Eacho

Re “The Silver Lining of Leaving Paris” (editorial, June 2):

While everyone on the planet should be grateful that various American states and cities are taking responsibility for fighting global warming, the world’s richest country must simply find the will to enact a national solution.

The quickest, most efficient and most potent solution, according to economists, is a carbon fee. Since air pollution, climate change and other problems are caused by burning carbon, the price of carbon should include the costs that those problems impose on all of us and on our economy.

If Congress put a fee on carbon emissions, the free market would accelerate the shift toward sources like solar and wind power. And one price for carbon would make much more sense than a variety of prices set by states.

Council of American Ambassadors: An Opportunity for President Trump to Lead

By William C. Eacho, The Ambassadors REVIEW Spring 2018 Issue

Every day, in countries around the planet, government employees are working on plans that will reduce greenhouse emissions, as each nation promised to do at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. Here in Washington? No one has such an assignment.

Global leadership used to be an American staple. In fact, we were in the vanguard a couple of years ago when 195 nations assembled in Paris to finalize the climate change accord. In a 180-degree reversal, President Donald Trump opted to withdraw from this pact. But since the rules do not allow that withdrawal to become official until November 4, 2020, there is time for our government to regain its leadership role as the world struggles to meet this fundamental challenge. And the President can do so in a way that strengthens the global competitiveness of the U.S. economy.

How? Ask almost any economist what is the quickest, most efficient and least expensive way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and he or she will say, “a carbon tax.” Carbon has benefited from a subsidy from day one. Yes, fossil fuels have played a critical role in U.S. prosperity, but they also have driven up the rates and severity of lung cancer, asthma, heart disease and other ailments. In addition, they are the leading cause of climate change, which scientists have concluded is running up the frequency and intensity of wildfires, superstorms and other natural disasters. Yet the price we pay for carbon does not cover any of these costs; all of us pick up that tab.

Bill Eacho's Briefing on Climate Policy at Duke University, The Fuqua School of Business

"Bill Eacho, Former U.S. Ambassador and CEO, and Founder of the Partnership for Responsible Growth, discusses the state of climate policy and its business implications. Part of ClimateCAP: The Global MBA Summit on Climate, Capital, & Business. Hosted in 2018 at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business in partnership with 16 leading business schools."

Washington Post: Making the price of carbon more honest

By George T. Frampton Jr., Co-founder of the Partnership for Responsible Growth.

A Pigouvian tax. That’s the common-sense response to Fred Hiatt’s plea in his Feb. 12 op-ed, “Don’t celebrate the budget deal. It imperils America,” that Congress “fund” the nation’s priorities. Such a levy, named for British economist Arthur Pigou, is intended to correct an inefficient market outcome.

We subsidize the burning of carbon. We all pay later for lung cancer, asthma, heart disease and the lost productivity resulting from these diseases. Its price does not include the costs of more frequent and more intense hurricanes, wildfires and other natural disasters that climate change is exacerbating.

By honestly pricing carbon, we could accelerate the inevitable transition to clean energy and reduce carbon’s increasingly high costs to society. Doing so would provide a second benefit: A $49-per-metric-ton fee, increasing by 2 percent a year over inflation, would generate $2.1 trillion over 10 years. Even after rebating a portion of that to lower- and middle-income households to compensate them for slightly higher energy costs, there would still be more than $1 trillion left to reduce the fast-rising national debt and address our infrastructure needs.