07.11.2012 1

Carbon taxes on the horizon

Incredibly, “conservative” groups are meeting to push through a carbon tax in the lame duck session…

From Greenwire:

Diverse group meets in Washington to discuss way forward on carbon
Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter

Climate policy thinkers of every political stripe are set to meet this afternoon at the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the American Enterprise Institute for a closed-door meeting on the future of carbon policy.

The guest list includes representatives from a broad spectrum of groups, from Public Citizen and the Union of Concerned Scientists, to deficit watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense, to the R Street Institute, which split off from the conservative Heartland Institute two months ago after Heartland launched its infamous Unabomber ad campaign to undermine belief in man-made climate change.

The meeting is one of a series of similar gatherings convened by AEI senior economist Kevin Hassett.

Véronique Rodman, a spokeswoman for AEI, said the meetings were really “just brainstorming sessions.”

Kenneth Green, an AEI scholar who does not plan to attend, said Hassett had been discussing the carbon tax informally with other economists for some time “as a conservative alternative to EPA regulation and the like.”

“A bunch of economists still have an academic interest in this idea,” he said.

Green said today’s meeting appeared to be an outgrowth of that effort.

David Jenkins, government affairs director for ConservAmerica, who planned to attend the meeting, said its organizers had not notified the media because they hoped to foster a frank discussion on the issue of carbon policy without having it become a political football.

“It’s like shooting yourself in the foot before you even get started,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins, whose group until recently was known as Republicans for Environmental Protection, said that the effort last Congress to pass a carbon cap-and-trade bill became politically polarized in part because it was chewed over in the media and demonized by fossil fuels interests for months before a bill was even introduced.

While he said the bill sponsored by Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) was “not perfect by any means,” he noted that the underlying policy structure of cap and trade was once a Republican construct.

“Now most people would think that trying to do cap and trade is a futile effort,” Jenkins said.

“What do we do as a planet in trying to deal with this stuff if every solution that comes up gets shot down and ridiculed and demonized successfully before there’s any chance to get political momentum behind it?” he asked.

Jenkins said that part of the answer appeared to be to foster more diverse positions on climate change among Republicans.

Today’s meeting follows the establishment yesterday of a program at George Mason University, spearheaded by former Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.), that seeks to drum up grass-roots support for a revenue-neutral carbon tax as a “conservative” solution to climate change (E&E Daily, July 11).

And here is the agenda of the meeting from AEI:

Price Carbon Campaign / Lame Duck Initiative:

A Carbon Pollution Tax in Fiscal and Tax Reform

Meeting V, Wednesday, July 11, 2012

American Enterprise Institute, 1150 17th Street, N.W.

12:45 – Lunch

1:30 – Background and orientation

1)      Welcome from AEI (Kevin Hassett)

2)      Brief introductions from participants

3)      Overview of agenda and facilitation format (Alden Meyer)

4)      Background and context for meeting (Tom Stokes)

Session I: Update on posture of key constituencies

1:45 – Congressional Republicans, Romney and Business Leaders
Detoxifying climate policy for conservatives.
Discussants: Kevin Hassett, Dave Jenkins, Eli Lehrer, Bill Newman

2:15 – Progressive/Social justice groups

Discussants: Danielle Deane, Tyson Slocum, Chad Stone

2:45 – Economists and deficit hawks

Discussants: Autumn Hannah, Aparna Mathur, Diane Lim Rogers, Rob Shapiro

3:15 – Break

Session II: Framing and selling a carbon pollution tax

3:30 – Initial thoughts on a post-election public opinion and education campaign

Discussant: Kevin Curtis

4:00 – Building bipartisan support and navigating Ways & Means

Discussant: Tom Downey

4:30 – Honing the case for a carbon pollution tax

Ian Parry: IMF book on carbon tax in fiscal context

Rob Williams: RFF FAQ

Adele Morris: November 13th AEI/Brooking/IMF event & July 12th RFF discussion

5:00 – Next steps and Wrap-up

5:15 – 6:00:  Gather for informal conversation and light refreshments

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