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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

New details are emerging about a low-profile carbon tax campaign whose backers are confident will prevail in a climate debate defined by heated Democratic rhetoric and a lack of apparent interest by most Republicans.

Driving the news: U.S. carbon dioxide emissions would be cut in half by 2035 under a $40-a-ton carbon tax that increases 5% above inflation annually, according to a new goal in the plan. The proposal is being pushed by a coalition of strange bedfellows that includes corporations, environmental groups, former Republican politicians and economists.

Where it stands: The group, the Climate Leadership Council (CLC), is pushing a carbon tax whose proceeds will be refunded back to consumers. CLC was launched in early 2017 by former Republican leaders, including two former secretaries of states, James Baker and George Shultz.

  • Since then, the effort has gained impressive support from big oil companies and environmental groups, but it hasn’t found much Republican support in Congress.
  • Although Republicans are increasingly acknowledging climate change is a problem, few are on board with sweeping new policy, which this would be.

What’s new: The group has added two new corporate members — mining giant BHP Billiton and electricity provider Calpine — and plans to release a detailed legislative proposal.

  • The goal of halving U.S. CO2 emissions by 2035 is new, as is the 5% annual increase to the proposed carbon tax. This is far more ambitious than President Obama’s commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement, but less aggressive than what most Democrats are calling for now.
  • The plan specifies that it would displace or preempt all federal regulations for stationary sources of CO2. This includes things like power plants, but excludes cars and trucks. It looks like an attempt at compromise in what is sure to be a dicey debate.
  • The plan also removes any mention of shielding companies from lawsuits alleging responsibility for damages connected to historical emissions. Removing the liability line could be significant because many see it as a must-have for big oil companies facing such lawsuits, though a similar proposal can always be added in the actual legislative process.

What’s next: Expect more news from the group in about a month, including more members, new financial commitments to its lobbying arm and a six-figure advertising campaign in DC, according to CEO Ted Halstead.

  • Halstead says the plan will be introduced in a bipartisan manner, ideally in both chambers of Congress, by year’s end.

Editor's note: This piece corrected the spelling of George Shultz.

Go deeper

Hope King, author of Closer
Updated 1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Peloton pumps its brakes

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Peloton’s popularity is falling as swiftly as it shot up.

Why it matters: Not all pandemic habits stick around. Peloton's trajectory over the past two years exemplifies how challenging it's been for companies to gauge shifts in consumer demand — particularly in sectors heavily altered by the pandemic.

Mitch McConnell's remarks on Black voters raise ire

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell during a Capitol Hill news conference earlier this year. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been widely criticized for comments he made this week about Black American voters.

Driving the news: When asked by a reporter Wednesday about concerns among voters of color, McConnell said "the concern is misplaced, because if you look at the statistics, Black American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans."

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Trump’s friends worry legal pick for N.Y. case lacks experience

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Close associates and advisers to Donald Trump tell Axios they're concerned by his decision to use a relatively inexperienced New Jersey attorney, Alina Habba, in his high-stakes legal fight against New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Why it matters: A former president typically has access to the country's most prestigious experts, including lawyers. Trump has turned to the former general counsel for a parking garage company, who works from a small law office near his Bedminster, N.J., country club.