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Conservative groups rally against a carbon tax

A factory emitting CO2 gases
Photo: Kena Betancur/VIEWpress/Corbis via Getty Images

An influential conservative organization is rallying like-minded interest groups to voice opposition to a carbon tax, largely in response to a new initiative launched last week urging support for such a policy, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The American Energy Alliance is among several such conservative groups with sway among Republicans on Capitol Hill. This influence is likely to hold strong despite former Republican leaders voicing support for a carbon price, including former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi.

The details: The letter, which the group is still seeking signatures for, is addressed to House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and it urges them to hold a vote on Rep. Steve Scalise's non-binding, but politically important, resolution that would put lawmakers on the record opposing a carbon tax. The House overwhelmingly voted in support of the measure in 2016.

"Despite recent attempts to market several carbon tax policy proposals as 'conservative,' it is also important to note the striking similarities between those proposals and carbon tax legislation being pushed by liberal Members of Congress."
— Excerpt of draft letter by the American Energy Alliance

Between the lines: A tax on carbon emissions is considered the most economically straightforward way to address climate change, compared to regulations or more complicated trading regimes. Carbon taxes have had more support from conservatives in the past, but climate change as an issue has largely become a liberal cause in Washington over the last decade.

The latest initiative aims to be somewhat different. Called Americans for Carbon Dividends, the group is pushing a carbon tax that gradually rises while revenue is distributed back to consumers.

The bottom line: A carbon tax remains highly unlikely to pass in Congress in at least the next few years.

Go deeper: Nuclear, Renewable firms fund new group pushing carbon tax

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