GOP lawmakers float resolution to keep carbon tax grounded

Two conservative Republicans want to ensure that carbon tax proposals never see the light of day in Congress.

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) said Thursday that they’re seeking support for a resolution declaring that a carbon tax would be economically harmful.

“There’s a lot of talk in Washington about raising taxes, and finding ‘revenues’ in creative ways, to avoid going over the fiscal cliff,” Vitter said. “But a carbon tax — which would force more financial hardship upon family budgets, energy consumers and job seekers — needs to be completely taken off the table.”

The idea of a tax has gained new traction in policy expert and climate activist circles as a way to help curb emissions and find new revenues in fiscal debates. But the recent activity has not translated into political momentum thus far.

White House spokesman Jay Carney recently said the administration would “never” propose a carbon tax, while House GOP leaders — backed by several conservative advocacy groups — oppose the idea too.

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Vitter and Pompeo want to nail the coffin shut even more tightly. Pompeo said in a statement that the planned resolution is “aimed at putting Congress on the record in opposition to this awful idea.”

“The concurrent resolution states that a carbon tax, which would increase the cost of manufactured goods and harm America’s manufacturing sector, is regressive in nature and would unfairly burden those vulnerable individuals and families in the U.S. who are struggling under a stagnating economy,” the lawmakers' announcement said.

Pompeo is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, while Vitter is slated to become the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee next year.

Advocates of carbon taxes say they can help spur the transition to cleaner fuels and greater efficiency by creating a cost for greenhouse gas pollution generated by petroleum and coal.

Former Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.), who is heading a new energy initiative at George Mason University, is pushing for a “tax swap” that would combine a carbon tax with a corresponding reduction in other rates.

“Let’s shift taxes off of income and on to pollution; let’s get to a true cost comparison between fuels by eliminating subsidies for all fuels and attaching all costs to all fuels,” Inglis said in a recent statement. "A tax swap is pro-growth and cost accountability is free enterprise.”