The Trump administration isn’t considering advocating for a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, a White House official said Wednesday.
The official sought to clarify the administration’s position after White House press secretary Sean Spicer seemed to be unclear on the matter at a Tuesday press briefing.
“I think there's a robust debate going on with respect to comprehensive tax reform,” Spicer said in response to a reporter’s question on whether a carbon tax is under consideration by President Trump.
“Obviously, there's a lot of people who recognize that we haven’t [had] comprehensive tax reform since 1986 and that there’s a lot of pieces in this that we need to examine and get to and there’s a lot of voices and opinions that get shared with him,” he continued.
The White House official shot down the possibility.
“The Trump administration is not considering a carbon tax,” the official said.
Top White House advisers, including National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, met last month with a group of ex-GOP officials led by James Baker, the former secretary of State and Treasury, who pitched them on the idea of a carbon tax with proceeds going to individuals.
The White House said meetings like that are a normal part of the economic advisers’ job.
“Part of the NEC’s responsibility in coordinating economic policy for the president is to listen to a range of viewpoints on various issues,” the official said.
Carbon taxes or other pricing mechanisms for greenhouse gases have long been popular among Democrats and some conservative economists as a simple way to discourage the use of fossil fuels and fight climate change.
But elected Republicans are nearly united in their opposition to a carbon tax, owing both to skepticism of the science of climate change and the economic impact of a significant new tax.
Politico reported late Tuesday that the carbon tax issue is causing a rift among White House advisers, causing officials like Trump's chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, to be skeptical of Cohn and others for taking the meeting.