Conservative outside group Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is launching a six-figure advertising campaign pressing vulnerable Democrats to oppose a carbon tax.
The month-long online effort will span 15 states and cost $175,000. It will target three Democratic senators up for reelection in 2014 — Sens. Mark BegichMark BegichThe future of the Arctic 2016’s battle for the Senate: A shifting map Trump campaign left out of Alaska voter guide MORE (Alaska), Mark UdallMark UdallElection autopsy: Latinos favored Clinton more than exit polls showed Live coverage: Tillerson's hearing for State The rise and possible fall of the ‘Card’ in politics MORE (Colo.) and Kay HaganKay HaganLinking repatriation to job creation Former Sen. Kay Hagan in ICU after being rushed to hospital GOP senator floats retiring over gridlock MORE (N.C.) — as well as 10 House members.
“Carbon taxes are bad for American industry and jobs,” AFP President Tim Phillips said in a statement. “They drive up utility bills and the cost of gasoline for American families and businesses, all while hurting job growth and driving business overseas. Deliberately driving up energy prices is a bad approach that slows economic activity.”
AFP is backed by the billionaire Koch brothers, who made their fortunes in the fossil fuel industry.
Conservatives and industry oppose putting a price on carbon, as they say would slow economic activity, raise the cost of energy-intensive products and increase electricity rates.
On the other hand, many liberal Democrats, public health groups and environmental organizations support a carbon tax. They say it would properly account for environmental, property and health damage caused by carbon emissions, as well as mitigate climate change.
The idea of a carbon tax has generated plenty of Capitol Hill buzz, but not much substance.
Some conservative groups, such as the American Enterprise Institute, have floated it as a way to generate more revenues for the Treasury. It’s also a favorite for climate activists, as it would likely greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
A carbon tax has surfaced in a handful of policy papers as a recommendation for congressional tax-writing panels as they dive into a potential overhaul of the federal tax code.
Passing such a measure in the current Congress, however, is largely a pipe dream for its advocates.
The GOP-controlled House wouldn’t touch a carbon tax, and a majority of the Senate — though not Begich, Udall or Hagan — opposed the concept in a March vote on the nonbinding Senate Democratic budget proposal.
On top of that, the Obama administration has said it would not pursue a carbon tax.
— This story was updated at 10:50 a.m. on June 6.