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.

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