Happy Wednesday and welcome back to Generate, where your host is thankful for contributions from colleagues Amy Harder and Shannon Vavra. I'm also thankful for your tips and feedback, so please keep it coming! You can find me at email@example.com. Without further ado . . .
The great thing about the endless speculation on carbon taxes is that everyone is right. They're alive and dead at the same time, which brings us to.…
The latest: The Washington Post broke a big story yesterday with a report that the White House is weighing a carbon tax and a value-added tax as officials search for revenue in wider tax code overhaul plans.
The fallout: That set off a ton of follow-up stories, but the White House quickly tried to settle things down. "As of now, neither a carbon tax nor a VAT are under consideration," deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters said Tuesday afternoon.
Our thought bubble: The odds of a carbon tax gaining political traction among Republicans are vanishingly low, and even that's probably optimistic. But...
Not giving up: A pro-carbon tax group led by former GOP officials including James Baker is boosting its staff.
Happening today: A new coalition is launching to fight efforts by Carl Icahn, the billionaire Trump advisor who has significant investments in the oil and gas sector, and Valero Energy to make a big change in the federal ethanol mandate.
Why it matters: The Main Street Energy Alliance will battle Icahn-backed proposals that would broaden the categories of companies facing compliance obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard. That's the mandate that sets the requirements for growing the amount of ethanol and other biofuels in the nation's gasoline supply.
Icahn and Valero, arguing that they face expensive compliance costs, want the EPA to expand the point of obligation to include companies that blend and retail gasoline. The new coalition wants to keep the current policy intact.
The players: The group has over two dozen members of various sizes ranging from convenience stores and small energy companies to energy giants BP and Shell.
The message: The coalition will make the case that if the EPA makes the change Icahn wants, it will place new burdens on small businesses, decrease the use of biofuels, and might raise consumer costs.
Bloomberg reports that Trump officials are concerned that Chinese investors might make a bid on bankrupt Westinghouse Electric Co.'s nuclear business, so they're discussing trying to find a backer from the U.S. or from a closer allied country instead.
Who's talking about it:
Why it matters: U.S. officials worry that a Chinese-backed purchase could lead to the disclosure of nuclear secrets to China that could be used for military or civilian purposes, according to Bloomberg.
Leverage: A Chinese bid would face review by the interagency Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., which can alter foreign acquisitions that present security risks and even call on the White House to scuttle them.
A coalition that includes Bill Gates and current and former CEOs of blue chip companies is expanding and re-upping its case for robust federal investments in energy research and development.
Why it matters: Federal funding is facing big question marks as the White House is pressing Congress to make steep cutbacks.
New faces: Four new CEOs are joining the now 10-member American Energy Innovation Council, an arm of the Bipartisan Policy Center. These include: General Atomics CEO Neal Blue, Gulfstream Aerospace president Mark Burns, Pacific Gas & Electric Executive chairman Anthony F. Earley, Jr., and Dominion Resources CEO Tom Farrell.
The pitch: AEIC came out with a new report Wednesday warning that the government already under-invests in clean energy innovation, and that stronger efforts provide a major economic boost. Recommendations include:
Border wall: The Associated Press noticed some energy-related ideas in industry bids to U.S. Customs and Border Protection for the planned border wall.
Tech: Greentech Media reports that Facebook and Microsoft are part of a new effort to "catalyze investments in renewable energy microgrids in underserved communities around the globe."
Finance: The Financial Times reports on new data showing that China "turbocharged" funding of overseas energy projects in 2016. China is bolstering its position in development finance at a time when the U.S. is planning a pullback.
Thanks for reading! See you tomorrow, or even later today in the Axios stream.