Manchin raises red flag on carbon tax

Centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Monday raised a red flag over his Democratic colleagues’ push to include a carbon tax in the reconciliation package they will need his vote to pass later this year.

A plan to tax carbon as a way to combat climate change and raise revenue for the reconciliation package is gaining momentum, and some Senate Democrats think that Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) is open to the idea after she raised global warming as a key concern during an interview with the Arizona Republic last week.

But Manchin, who represents coal-rich West Virginia, is not a fan of the idea. 

“I just heard about that,” he told reporters Monday when asked about the new push for the carbon tax. “Any type of a tax is going to be passed on to the people.”

“Now if a tax is going to be beneficial to help something and give us more research and development and innovation and technology, it’s something to look at,” he said. 

But Manchin said he doesn’t believe that would be the case for the carbon tax under discussion, at least as it’s been explained to him so far. 

Manchin made a similar argument against a carbon tax in April when he criticized the idea during a virtual conversation with the National Press Club in Washington. He argued at the time that it wouldn’t create significant incentives for the development of new technologies but instead would likely be used to eliminate jobs in fossil fuel industries.

The leading proponents of a carbon tax include Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).

Whitehouse says a carbon polluter fee would add as much as $1 trillion, and he wants it in the package.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) introduced legislation in July to create a border carbon adjustment fee on the import of products that emit a lot of carbon to produce. It would direct revenue to the development of emissions reducing technology.

Sinema, a fellow Senate centrist, is said to be open to the idea of a carbon tax, and last week she told The Arizona Republic, “We know that a changing climate costs Arizonans. And right now, we have the opportunity to pass smart policies to address it — looking forward to that.” 

A Democratic aide familiar with Sinema’s thinking, however, said she is not actively pushing the idea.

“Sen. Sinema is not pushing or proposing a carbon tax,” the source said. 

Tags Brian Schatz Carbon tax Chris Coons Joe Manchin Kyrsten Sinema Scott Peters Sheldon Whitehouse
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