Equilibrium & Sustainability

Manchin, Tester voice opposition to carbon tax

Two Democratic senators on Tuesday expressed opposition to including a carbon tax in the massive social spending plan as Democrats scramble to make good on their pledge to combat climate change. 

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Tuesday poured cold water on the renewed chatter of including a carbon tax.

Asked about a carbon tax, which would effectively place a fee on carbon dioxide and methane emissions, Manchin said the idea was not under discussion. 

“We’re not — the carbon tax is not on the board at all right now,” Manchin told reporters.  

Pressed if he could get behind a carbon tax, Manchin reiterated that it was “not on the board.” 

Sen. Jon Tester (Mont.), another red-state Democrat, said he also wasn’t supportive of a carbon tax.

“I’m not a big fan of the carbon tax. I just don’t think it works the way it was explained to me,” Tester said.

A carbon tax has strong supporters within the Senate Democratic Conference but Manchin has long been skeptical of the idea, telling reporters in September, when it was last floated, that “any type of a tax is going to be passed on to the people.” 

But it jumped back into the spotlight as Democrats scramble for alternatives after Manchin closed the door on including in their spending package the Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP), which incentivizes companies toward clean energy sources.

“If the CEPP has fallen out of the package, that makes the methane and carbon pollution fees even more critical as a pathway to safety,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) told The Hill this week.

Because Democrats are using reconciliation, a budget process, to pass the bill without GOP support, any ideas need total unity from all 50 Senate Democrats. 

Though some Democrats have stopped short of saying the plan is officially out of the bill, without Manchin’s support it can’t get the total unity needed for Democrats to pass the larger spending bill. 

Asked about getting Manchin on board with the climate provisions, Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat, said Tuesday that he thought “there are areas that we can find some agreement.”  

“We want to see something that really shows a national commitment to the climate change issue,” Durbin said. “We want the president to be able to sign it, and to speak to other nation’s about it.” 

Tags Dick Durbin Joe Manchin Jon Tester Sheldon Whitehouse

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