Bipartisan support for a carbon tax will emerge — congressman 

Source: Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, April 23, 2015

A bipartisan duo agreed today that eventual enactment of a carbon tax is all but inevitable but that it will require the support of both Democrats and Republicans.

Speaking at a forum hosted by the center-right American Enterprise Institute, Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) and former Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.) touted a levy on carbon as one way to break through the congressional impasse on climate change, especially if it comes attached to a reduction in the corporate tax rate.

Both said they expected Congress to embrace it someday.

“I really believe in my heart that we will be here,” Delaney said.

The Maryland congressman praised Inglis for supporting climate action, saying that “every one Republican who steps forward on this is worth 10,000 Democrats.”

Delaney said while his Democratic colleagues sometimes pepper their rhetoric with pot shots at corporations, his own years in business have taught him that a free-enterprise approach can be more effective at bringing about change. And a carbon levy could help lower taxes on corporate earnings from 35 to 28 percent, or lower, he said.

Inglis applauded Delaney’s pitch for a lower corporate tax rate, adding that it is a long-sought goal Republicans will struggle to achieve on their own.

The willingness of Democrats to consider lowering business taxes in the context of climate change policy is one reason conservatives should embrace a carbon tax, Inglis said.

“This is pretty doggone exciting if you’re a conservative,” he said. And Republicans should convert on climate change in large numbers when they realize that there are policy models that don’t conflict with their free-market values, he said.

Inglis, who lost his bid for re-election in 2010 in part due to his support for climate action, now heads the Energy & Enterprise Institute, which aims to drum up conservative grass-roots support for a revenue-neutral carbon tax. He recently received the Profiles in Courage Award from the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation for his work (Greenwire, April 13).

Delaney marked Earth Day by pledging to introduce a new carbon tax bill that would direct revenue to protect coal miners and low-income ratepayers who would be adversely affected and would roll back the corporate income tax rate.

The new version will differ from the measure he floated last year, his office said.

At the AEI forum he said the bill would provide “billions and billions of dollars for retraining, relocation, but quite frankly for early retirement” of miners, effectively neutralizing the Republican argument that constraints on carbon will create suffering in coal country.

Inglis has said any carbon tax model he would support must be entirely revenue-neutral, but the Delaney model does not seem to meet that criteria because it would create programs for miners and low-income households.

Inglis and other conservative backers of a carbon tax at think tanks like AEI insist that the policy would pre-empt U.S. EPA’s Clean Air Act greenhouse gas rules. Delaney said his bill will not weigh in on that, but noted that even the ad