Conservatives attack each other over carbon tax plans
The Institute for Energy Research organized a panel of policy experts yesterday in an effort to sap momentum from a small but well-publicized campaign to increase Republican awareness and support of taxing carbon.
It took aim at the R Street Institute, a conservative group that broke away from the Heartland Institute last year, and the Energy and Enterprise Initiative overseen by former Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.). Both groups are promoting a revenue-neutral carbon tax that could reduce rates on income and corporations while pre-empting upcoming EPA regulations on power plants.
Thomas Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research and its political arm, the American Energy Alliance, expressed frustration at the amount of attention that R Street and Inglis’ group has received.
“I feel like they’ve been given an exorbitant amount of weight in terms of their voice in the conservative movement by the media,” Pyle said after the event. “So there’s this perception that there’s a groundswell of conservative support for a carbon tax, and it’s just not true.”
“It’s the same couple, few people that keep popping up in the same articles,” he added.
…Andrew Moylan, the outreach director at R Street, describes a different strategy, in which Republicans take the initiative on climate change by fighting President Obama’s EPA regulations with a carbon tax that pre-empts them while lowering other taxes.
“We’re of the opinion that just kind of yelling ‘no’ about everything isn’t that effective,” Moylan said. “And it will end up in a place that we don’t like very much, which is an expensive and opaque regulatory regime.”
…If the resolution is voted on, it could complicate the efforts by carbon tax supporters to encourage Republican adoption of the issue. Moylan said some Republicans openly discuss the idea in private but won’t advertise those thoughts publicly.
If they were faced with casting a vote against a new tax, they probably would, perhaps making it more difficult in the future to revisit the carbon idea, he said.
“It’s awfully difficult for most Republicans, probably, to vote against something like that, even if they sort of felt in their hearts of hearts that a properly designed carbon tax might be something they could support,” Moylan said.