Feb 13, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Senators huddle over dinner with carbon-tax backers

Senator Mike Braun
Sen. Mike Braun. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Stringer/Getty Images

Nearly two dozen proponents of a carbon tax across the corporate, economic and advocacy spectrum pitched their climate plan to a bipartisan group of senators over dinner this week.

Why it matters: It's a concrete sign of the growing pressure facing lawmakers to pass big policy on climate change, even though the chances of that happening any time soon remain slim.

The intrigue: Senior officials from almost every entity that's part of the Climate Leadership Council were present at the dinner, which included nine senators from both parties and those who are members of the newly formed Climate Solutions Caucus.

Where it stands: The plan the backers are pitching is a $40-a-ton carbon tax that gradually rises and from which proceeds are refunded to consumers. The coalition was launched in early 2017 by former Republican leaders, including two former secretaries of state, James Baker and George Shultz.

  • The proposal is being pushed by a coalition of strange bedfellows that includes corporations, environmental groups, former Republican politicians and economists.
  • Since its launch, the effort has gained impressive support from big oil companies and environmental groups, but it hasn't found much Republican backing in Congress.

What they're saying: In a joint statement after the dinner, Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.), didn't say they supported (or opposed) the policy, and instead said they're in the process of hearing from various interests about what to do about climate change. The bipartisan pair founded the Senate caucus on the topic.

Driving the news: The council is also announcing new developments on Thursday, including:

  • New members, such as JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs.
  • New details, including the plan would seek to work with states that already have climate policies, like California, to ensure the state policies are harmonious with federal measures.

Go deeper: As Congress mulls climate policy, carbon tax getting no love

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