A federal tax on carbon dioxide emissions is likely to gain traction if Hillary Clinton becomes president and Democrats take control of the Senate in 2016, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said.

Schumer, who is the third ranking Democrat in the Senate and likely to be the party’s leader in 2017, said Democrats and the GOP could agree on a carbon tax as a way to add funding to the federal government.

{mosads}There’s almost no chance of a tax on Earth-warming carbon passing the current Senate, but Schumer said he’s optimistic.

Republicans, Schumer argued, will advocate for a national sales tax, or value-added tax (VAT), to get more money into federal coffers.

“We won’t be for a VAT, that’s regressive. But there’s one sort of VAT that Democrats might be for, and that’s a carbon tax,” Schumer said Tuesday at an environmental policy event hosted by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.). Whitehouse has sponsored a carbon tax bill with Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).

“So you might get a compromise along those lines,” Schumer said.

“I think in 2017, people in both parties might come to that as the best way to fund the government.”

The bill from Whitehouse and Schatz, however, would not fund the government. The revenues — $45 per ton of carbon emitted — raised would be used to offset a reduction in the corporate tax rate, as well as additional tax refunds for individuals and grants to states.

Schumer said he’s optimistic of the chances of a carbon tax.

“I think the electorate is turning in our direction, and I think policies are turning in our direction, and I think in the next five or ten years, we’re going to see a lot progress on environmental issues,” he said.

Clinton has not publicly endorsed a carbon tax, and the Obama administration has said that it would never support one.

But many liberal groups support generally putting a price on carbon emissions, and a carbon tax specifically.

Certain conservative groups that endorse policies to combat climate change have chosen a revenue-neutral carbon tax as their preferred method, including the Energy and Enterprise Initiative, a think tank headed by former Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.).

Tags Carbon tax Chuck Schumer Climate change
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