House GOP leaders pledge to oppose climate change ‘tax’

The entire House GOP leadership team has registered its opposition to climate legislation that raises revenue, underscoring the long odds that taxing carbon emissions has in negotiations on the fiscal cliff.

The Tea Party group Americans for Prosperity greeted Wednesday’s election of the House GOP leadership team by pointing out that the lawmakers are among the signers of the group’s “no climate tax” pledge.

Signers agree to “oppose any legislation relating to climate change that includes a net increase in government revenue.”

They include Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who all retained their leadership posts.

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But it also includes the lower ranks of the leadership squad, including new Republican Conference Chairwoman Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.), National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden (Ore.) and others.

“Carbon taxes are once again being floated as a way to raise revenue so that Washington can skip the hard work of actually getting runaway entitlement spending under control,” said James Valvo, policy director of the group, which is backed by the Koch brothers, who are active in conservative politics.

“Using a carbon tax to address the deficit would clearly be a violation of the pledge that the entire House leadership team for the 112th and now 113th Congress have already pledged not to do,” he said.

Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist said this week that a carbon tax, even with offsetting reductions in other taxes, would violate his groups' anti-tax increase pledge that a majority of Republicans have signed, a further sign that influential conservative groups have mobilized against the idea.

Taxing production of oil, gas and coal has gained increased attention in policy circles of late to help address climate change and raise revenue, and some current and former lawmakers say it should be on the table.

But the White House says it’s not going to propose the idea.

While a senior Treasury Department official said this week that a carbon tax might be considered if Republicans brought it forward, the AFP pledge is further proof that it’s unlikely to be in the cards.

White House spokesman Jay Carney on Thursday reiterated that a carbon tax isn’t on the White House to-do list. “We would never propose a carbon tax, and have no intention of proposing one,” he said.

President Obama said during Wednesday’s press conference that he wants to take more steps to address climate change, but suggested it's hardly at the top of his agenda, especially compared to the economy.

Carney underscored that dynamic Thursday.

“The point the president was making is that our focus right now is the same as the American people’s focus, which is on the need to extend economic growth, expand job creation,” he said aboard Air Force One, according to a transcript.