Dems up for reelection target of Americans for Prosperity carbon tax campaign

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 Peter BegichPerez creates advisory team for DNC transition The future of the Arctic 2016’s battle for the Senate: A shifting map MORE (Alaska), Mark UdallMark Emery UdallSenate GOP rejects Trump’s call to go big on gun legislation Democratic primary could upend bid for Colorado seat Picking 2018 candidates pits McConnell vs. GOP groups MORE (Colo.) and Kay HaganKay Ruthven Hagan2020 Dems compete for top campaign operatives Senate GOP rejects Trump’s call to go big on gun legislation Politics is purple in North Carolina 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.