Study: Carbon tax could raise $1.5 trillion

The study said the carbon tax also would lower pollution by 20 percent by 2050, compared with 2006 levels, and prevents oil imports from rising. It would also shift energy markets to clean technology, a sector to which the United States has already devoted much capital, the report said.

Sebastian Rausch, an assistant professor of energy economics at ETH Zurich, co-authored the study with Reilly. The study assumed full employment and was based on an earlier Congressional Budget Office report that used a $20-per-ton carbon tax.

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Conservatives and liberals alike have recently explored the possibility of a carbon tax.

Right-leaning think tank the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) hosted informal discussions on the topic in July. GOP leadership, however, firmly dismissed the idea of a carbon tax following reports about the AEI talks.

Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) introduced carbon tax legislation in August, the revenue from which would be used to pay down the deficit and to offset cost increases. That proposal largely mirrors one from Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).