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Despite slim odds, carbon tax advocacy ramps up

Climate protestors outside Congress
Protestors outside Congress. Phot: John Lamparski/Getty Images

In separate but similar efforts this week, a corporate lobbying campaign and a grassroots interest group are both calling on Washington to pass a carbon tax.

Driving the news: Americans for Carbon Dividends, an industry-backed lobbying group, is launching a six-figure advertising campaign Wednesday promoting a carbon tax whose proceeds are returned to consumers. Separately, nearly 1,000 advocates with Citizens Climate Lobby were on Capitol Hill Tuesday pushing a similar policy.

Reality check: Congress is unlikely to pass such a proposal any time soon. Nearly all Republicans, both on Capitol Hill and in the White House, are opposed to a carbon tax — at least publicly. Meanwhile, the most vocal Democrats, including those running for president, want more aggressive policies than a tax.

The big picture: Support is growing, both among the public and within corporations, for sweeping policy on climate change. The developments this week are the latest sign of that trend, despite the slim odds for short-term action.

Where it stands: Americans for Carbon Dividends, which has funding from big corporations including ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips, is launching the first of what it says will be a long-running advertising campaign.

  • It’s beginning only as a digital-media advertising campaign in Washington, D.C., according to spokesman Ted Halstead, but will eventually spread outside the beltway.
  • Specific outlets for this campaign include Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and social media platform like Facebook and Twitter.
  • The group also launched a new website.

What I’m watching: Halstead says he expects bipartisan legislation on his group’s proposal in both chambers by sometime next year (a similar policy has already been introduced in the House).

  • He has previously said it will happen late this year or early next, but indicated by email Tuesday that is unlikely. “The impeachment saga has slowed everything down,” he wrote.

Go deeper: Carbon tax campaign unveils new details, backers