Trump opposes carbon tax, backs RFS in questionnaire

Source: Jennifer Yachnin, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump would oppose a carbon tax if elected to the White House, according to documents released yesterday by the American Energy Alliance, which offer the most detailed look at Trump’s energy policies to date.

The AEA, the advocacy arm of the Institute for Energy Research, today published candidate questionnaires that it received from both Trump and his primary rival for the GOP presidential nod, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

In addition to the carbon tax, the group asked candidates to comment on issues like whether they support continued tax subsidies for the energy industry, whether the renewable fuel standard should be discontinued and whether they would support expanded energy production on public lands.

Both Trump and Cruz said they would oppose a carbon tax, a measure that has been touted by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in his battle with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination.

While Trump rejected the carbon tax and a question about whether agencies should use the “social cost” of carbon in rulemakings with a succinct “no and no,” Cruz used the opportunity to reiterate his skepticism over climate change science.

“I do not support a carbon tax or using the social cost of carbon in rulemakings. The observed temperature evidence does not support the claims that carbon dioxide is dangerous,” Cruz wrote.

Both candidates also agreed that lawmakers should reform the tax code to apply equally to all energy while calling for an end to “subsidies” for specific sectors. Although the survey did not offer specifics, Trump has previously criticized production tax credits for the wind industry.

“Eventually, all subsidies should end so that the demand for energy will set prices, allow consumers access to the best values and encourage all facets of the energy industry to do all they can to keep their particular source competitive,” Trump said.

But Trump also appeared to imply the debate is not one he would push if elected, stating: “This is an issue for Congress and the people they represent.”

Split over RFS

The candidates split over whether the RFS should continue, however, with Cruz reiterating his position that lawmakers should phase out the program over five years. Trump said it should remain in place for the foreseeable future.

Trump and Cruz also offered significantly different views on managing federal public lands. Echoing his prior concerns that states could opt to sell off tracts in the event of budget emergencies, Trump called for “establishing a shared governance structure with the states.”

Trump wrote: “This first step would allow for maintaining the aesthetics of the land while finding ways to gain revenue that would benefit both the federal and state governments.” He reiterated the same statement when asked how natural resources should be managed on federal lands.

Cruz, on the other hand, has called for the federal government to divest “most of its current land holdings” through sales to both states and private individuals. “The federal government already owns far too much land,” Cruz wrote.

Trump repeated his desire to rein in U.S. EPA, which he has previously called “the laughingstock of the world” and said needs “tremendous cutting.”

“Under my administration, all EPA rules will be reviewed. Any regulation that imposes undue costs on business enterprises will be eliminated,” Trump wrote.

AEA President Thomas Pyle did not endorse the views offered by either candidate — although AEA touts a free-market mentality, including curbing EPA — but called the questionnaires a “useful insight” into the candidate’s platforms.

“Since entering the Oval Office, President Obama has pushed an agenda to make American energy more expensive by restricting access to affordable, reliable energy and propping up expensive sources with taxpayer dollars,” Pyle added.

“The next president can either continue down a path toward expensive energy, or chart a new course that provides affordable energy and gives the American people more control over their energy choices.”

Click here to see Cruz’s answers.

Click here to see Trump’s answers.