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The opening of a Shell fuel filling station. Photo: Yegor Aleyev\TASS via Getty Images

Oil-and-gas giants Royal Dutch Shell, BP and Equinor have signed onto a letter circulating among companies praising legislation introduced Monday taxing carbon emissions, according to multiple people familiar with the details.

Why it matters: These companies, along with a few other big oil producers, have long said they support a tax on carbon emissions. Signing a letter — even though it’s still just a letter — is an early and important prerequisite that could likely lead to active lobbying Congress to support the bill.

One level deeper: The bill, which would replace the federal gas tax with a carbon tax, was introduced by GOP Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida, with one fellow GOP co-sponsor, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania. A Curbelo spokeswoman declined to comment on the letter, expected to be released as soon as Wednesday.

Yes, but: The letter, which is expected to include a range of corporations, does not explicitly endorse the bill. Instead, it’s expected to broadly praise it and its role jumpstarting what’s been a long dormant substantive conversation on climate policy on Capitol Hill, according to people who have seen a copy of it or are familiar with it. Curbelo's legislation is symbolically important but has zero chance of passage in the foreseeable future, due to powerful GOP opposition to carbon taxes.

For the record: Spokespeople for BP and Shell reiterated their support for a carbon tax, though they either declined or didn’t respond to requests for comments about the letter. An Equinor spokesperson confirmed the Norwegian company's participation early Wednesday.

Go deeper: GOP lawmaker introduces first big climate bill in nearly a decade

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include confirmation from Equinor and clarify the letter is from companies only, not other entities like environmental groups.

Go deeper

Updated 6 hours ago - World

Mexican President López Obrador tests positive for coronavirus

Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during a press conference at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday. Photo: Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Sunday evening that he's tested positive for COVID-19.

Driving the news: López Obrador tweeted that he has mild symptoms and is receiving medical treatment. "As always, I am optimistic," he added. "We will all move forward."

6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor of Arkansas

Sarah Huckabee Sanders at FOX News' studios in New York City in 2019. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will announce Monday that she's running for governor of Arkansas.

The big picture: Sanders was touted as a contender after it was announced she was leaving the Trump administration in June 2019. Then-President Trump tweeted he hoped she would run for governor, adding "she would be fantastic." Sanders is "seen as leader in the polls" in the Republican state, notes the Washington Post's Josh Dawsey, who first reported the news.

Coronavirus has inflamed global inequality

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

History will likely remember the pandemic as the "first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time." That's the verdict from Oxfam's inequality report covering the year 2020 — a terrible year that hit the poorest, hardest across the planet.

Why it matters: The world's poorest were already in a race against time, facing down an existential risk in the form of global climate change. The coronavirus pandemic could set global poverty reduction back as much as a full decade, according to the World Bank.