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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The plates are shifting when it comes to climate policy on K Street, but whether it's enough to alter the political landscape is another question entirely.

Catch up fast: The American Petroleum Institute yesterday endorsed putting a price on carbon emissions as part of its wider new climate policy platform.

Why it matters: It's a change for the powerful lobbying group, which fought a sweeping cap-and-trade bill that collapsed in the Senate a decade ago.

  • It also comes after the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently endorsed a "market-based" climate policy, which is basically a synonym for some kind of carbon price.

What we're watching: Whether API can gain any traction for its policy platform.

  • "This isn’t just one firework we are sending up into the sky — it is a policy we will pursue and advocate for within the administration and Congress," API President Mike Sommers said in a statement.
  • He said it will be the "center point" of their advocacy in Washington, D.C., and states.

Yes, but: There are several reasons API's new posture may not be the seed of some kind of bipartisan Beltway climate deal.

  • Right now just a tiny number of Capitol Hill Republicans support carbon taxes or emissions trading. Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, the top Republican on the Senate's energy committee, yesterday said imposing a cost on carbon will "hurt American families."
  • Some of the largest companies — including BP, Exxon, Shell and others — have long backed pricing and it hasn't moved the needle very far among Republicans.
  • Meanwhile, the Democratic center of gravity has moved away from pricing, though it's still a small part of the equation, as they push for steep emissions cuts.
  • The White House, Democratic lawmakers and activists are putting more emphasis on regulations combined with big spending increases on low-carbon infrastructure and funding to research and deploy emerging tech.
  • API says pricing systems should avoid "duplicative" regulations (though it does support methane regulation). It's hard to say how that would translate to specific negotiations, but it's safe to say the White House is unlikely to walk away from expansive regulatory plans.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Mar 25, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Top U.S. oil lobbying group officially endorses carbon pricing

Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

The American Petroleum Institute said Thursday that it supports putting a price on carbon emissions — a term that typically refers to emissions taxes or permit trading systems.

Why it matters: The new posture marks a major shift for the powerful K Street lobbying group, though signs of the endorsement emerged weeks ago.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Mar 25, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Democrats want Biden to restore Obama-era climate change policy

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Some Capitol Hill Democrats are pressing President Biden to re-instate Obama-era carbon emissions and mileage rules for passenger cars — and then go much further.

Driving the news: 10 Senate Democrats and dozens of House Democrats, in letters yesterday, call for standards through 2025 that at least match prior rules weakened under President Trump.

Warming up to solar geoengineering

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As countries struggle to meet ambitious targets to reduce carbon emissions, financial backers and government officials are grappling with how to study ideas for engineering the Earth’s climate.

Why it matters: Once dismissed as science fiction, solar geoengineering is now viewed as a possible tool to help humans reduce the dangerous impacts of climate change on ecosystems and society. However, much remains to be learned about these schemes before they can be considered.