Far Right Outraged That Some Conservatives Are Considering A Price On Carbon Pollution

Former Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC), the man leading an initiative to revive Republican talks on climate solutions, predicted “there are a lot of Republicans in foxholes on this hill, ducking as the fire gets intense.” It looks like he is right.

Last week, reports of an informal, bipartisan meeting hosted by American Enterprise Institute on how to effectively price carbon pollution drew immediate fire from conservative groups:

  • Joseph Bast, president of the Heartland Institute, a climate denial think tank: “Carbon dioxide is not a negative externality, it is a measure of energy use, and energy – as Julian Simon and others have pointed out – is the ‘master resource,’ the single most important input into our economy, the source of prosperity, innovation, and opportunity. The emerging consensus of scientists and economists is that CO2’s effects are either too small to be noticeable or will produce net benefits, not harms.
  • National Review: “Disturbing reports are reaching us of a hitherto-secret meeting at the American Enterprise Institute Wednesday afternoon looking at the feasibility of persuading Congressional Republicans to back a “revenue neutral” carbon tax […] Even if AEI was just providing the venue, one has to ask: What are they thinking?!
  • Competitive Enterprise Institute, via Politico: “Competitive Enterprise Institute senior fellow Marlo Lewis noted, ‘In general, when left and right join forces, the appropriate question is: Who is duping whom?’ He denounced the gathering as an ‘AEI-hosted carbon tax cabal.”I am impressed by the coordination,” added GOP energy and environmental strategist Mike McKenna in an email about Wednesday’s meeting. ‘That said, the specifics are ridiculously ugly — starting with $5 a gallon gas and going on from there.'”

Republican Congressional leaders have also come out strongly against a price on carbon. When asked about whether he would support a bipartisan dialogue around carbon pricing, Michael Steel, the spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), offered a simple “No.”  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office also said that the policy is off the table.

GOP icon George Schultz supports a carbon tax. Carbon pricing has bipartisan support from Democratic lamwakers Henry Waxman and Edward Markey and former GOP Representatives. Sherwood Boehlert and Wayne Gilchrest, who argued in an op-ed earlier this year that “no other policy would do as much for our economy, our security and our future as putting a price on carbon.” Inglis’ initiative also draws support from Mitt Romney’s top economic adviser Greg Mankiw, even though Romney continues to raise doubts about climate change.

The vitriolic reaction to AEI’s meeting illustrates the extreme ideological opposition to climate action among Republicans on the far right.


AEI also released a plan for carbon pricing last year. 

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22 Responses to Far Right Outraged That Some Conservatives Are Considering A Price On Carbon Pollution

  1. SecularAnimist says:

    Rebecca Leber wrote: “The vitriolic reaction to AEI’s meeting illustrates the extreme ideological opposition to climate action among Republicans on the far right.”

    The opposition is not “ideological” and has nothing to do with “the far right” or any other political orientation.

    The opposition comes from bought-and-paid-for stooges for the fossil fuel corporations, who pretend to be “right wing ideologues” on TV, to bamboozle gullible dupes who have been brainwashed for 30 years to unquestioningly believe anything and everything that some corporation brands as “conservative”.

    If the Pepsi corporation paid Fox News to brand Pepsi as “conservative” and Coca-Cola as “liberal”, millions of “movement conservatives” would be guzzling Pepsi and sending hate mail to Coca-Cola within the hour.

    The so-called “conservative” media uses the infamous “Big Lie” propaganda technique a lot. And their Biggest Lie of all is that they are “conservative”.

    Let’s stop playing along with that lie.

  2. Lou Grinzo says:

    That’s right, right wingers, keep on supporting and subsidizing the carbon suicide of modern civilization. There’s no chance whatsoever that THAT plan will blow up in your face once enough people figure out just how urgent our situation is.

  3. scarecities says:

    I didn’t realise that people were still banging on about Julian (seven billion years) Simon

  4. Mike Roddy says:

    Opposition to a carbon price is not ideological at all, since Republicans support taxes for the military, for example. It’s time our media called out people like Boehner and McConnell for what they are: employees of the oil companies.

  5. Mimikatz says:

    At least some of the opposition to acceptance of climate change is ideological, because it would mean accepting that things like a carbon tax are needed, and right-wing ideology says taxes are always and everywhere bad. Same with subsidies for clean energy development, greater regulation on fossil fuels etc. Many conservative leaders know better but for much of the followership it is tribal and ideological.

  6. Mark Shapiro says:

    You are 100% that they are not conservative, by any definition whatsoever. They thoughtlessly burn unlimited quantities of dangerous substances, despite warnings from adults, even from friends.

    They are not conservatives. They’re hippies.

  7. Mark Shapiro says:

    Forgot to mention — they live for today, for the moment’s pleasure, and don’t care about tomorrow.

  8. with the doves says:

    this is an overstatement:

    Carbon pricing has bipartisan support from Democratic lamwakers Henry Waxman and Edward Markey and former GOP Representatives.

    If the only Republicans who support carbon pricing are no longer in office, please don’t call that support “bipartisan.” It isn’t.

    For some reason people love that word so much they use when it’s not appropriate.

  9. SecularAnimist says:

    Mimikatz wrote: “right-wing ideology says taxes are always and everywhere bad. Same with subsidies for clean energy development”

    Actually, those two examples prove that the so-called “right-wing ideology” of the deniers is a fraud.

    The so-called “ideologues” who say “taxes are always and everywhere bad” want to raise taxes on the wind industry.

    The so-called “ideologues” who say that subsidies are always and everywhere bad want to subsidize the oil and coal corporations.

    They are not “ideologues” — “right wing” or otherwise. They are frauds and hypocrites who spout a fake, phony, trumped-up, Madison Avenue-scripted, focus-group-tested pseudo-ideology to bamboozle gullible people. They are shills for the fossil fuel corporations, nothing more and nothing less.

  10. Mark Shapiro says:

    Speaking of “conservatives”, here is a study via the Mercatus Institute and George Mason University, saying appliance efficiency standards are a bad idea — too paternalistic.

    His preferred policy — this is just too funny — a carbon tax!

    I guess he forgot clear it with CEI and Heartland.

    The study is here:

    H/T Marcacci commubnications. By the way, GMU is home of Edward Wegman. See Deep Climate for details.

  11. Mark Shapiro says:

    It is important to recognize, however, that there are conservatives, indeed Republicans, who support sane energy policies: a carbon tax and clean energy.

    Several are named in this post: Bob Inglis, Sherwood Boehlert, George Schultz, Wayne Gilchrist, Greg Mankiw, and the AEI.

    Needless to say, none is currently in office, yet they are allies.

  12. Tim Laporte says:

    Yes, the real story here is that a bi-partisan group of politically connected people is meeting behind the scenes in an effort to push for a carbon tax when the likelihood for passage is highest: as part of the budget negotiations that will occur during the lame-duck session of congress at the end of year.

    Who cares that “conservatives” denounce it? We already know that they oppose rational thinking on this issue. More importantly, a coalition of the rational is gaining momentum with hopes of pushing a carbon tax as a way of dealing with the forthcoming “fiscal cliff.” This is the real story here.

    The best opportunity for pushing a carbon tax is after the election and before the first of the year.

  13. with the doves says:

    Yeah, none is currently in office. Because to get the needed funds to run as a GOP you have to deny climate change. The party itself has been totally captured. Green Republicans have no say.

  14. Jeff Huggins says:

    Jill Stein and the Green Party?

    Joe and Rebecca, will CP be covering and commenting on Jill Stein’s stance on and platform regarding climate change and related environmental issues, as the Green Party’s candidate for President?



  15. Steve says:

    It’s more complicated than “conservative-this” and “denier-that.”

    To work effectively, a carbon tax needs to impose a stiff regressive excise/sales/
    consumption tax on the lifeblood of everyday people’s everyday activities — transportation, heating and air conditioning, electricity, even (indirectly) food prices. If you do it right, you should tax methane along with CO2, which means jacking up the price of ribeye steaks and fastfood burgers.

    Don’t be surprised if politicians on both sides of the aisle get squeamish. I’m for it, but people need to prepare both for the direct impacts of climate change and for the economic/behavioral/personal financial impacts of government solutions.

    Just saying….

  16. BIG difference between taxing carbon and taxing carbon emissions.

    Taxing carbon emissions in the US – amounts to a defeat (snookered again by the extreme right wing) – would allow continued global warming because all our domestic crude, gas and coal would ship to China where is would not be taxed.

    Taxing carbon as it comes out of the ground is the only way to lower emissions.

    We should know by now that we can only lower CO2 levels by eliminating carbon globally.

    [“Golly gee, maybe we can compromise and just tax carbon emissions – Protect US jobs!”] In this case, an economic compromise – where we permit carbon sales overseas is a climate science blunder.

    Adaptation is a local task. Mitigation is a global action.

  17. Joe – this is a great opportunity to plot out the mechanical effects of such a political act.

    Taxing carbon is GREAT IDEA – it is a real mechanism for mitigation change.

  18. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    At last report, Simon was still dead, and his ‘ideas’ are just as necrotic. He is an idol of the cornutopian Right, who believe in the triumph of the Will (over science and rationality) as fervently as any other Rightwing authoritarians. Bullying, intimidation and violence always served them well, until they tangled with Gaia. She’s inviolable, so the Right will lash out at softer targets as their odium amongst the rest of humanity rises.

  19. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Insatiable greed and the psychology of the cancer cell, that must grow and grow, without restraint, until it kills its host, come into it as well. There are a lot of little pathological metastases thinly disguised as people out and about.

  20. Joan Savage says:

    The carbon tax as proposed in the AEI 2011 paper was coupled to a progressive consumption tax or Bradford X tax. In that context, AEI proposed that a carbon tax replace “energy subsidies, tax credits, and regulations.”

    I really gulped at the implications of a carbon tax replacing “regulations.” AEI may have a narrower list of energy regulations in mind, but at first blush it looked like the kind of loophole that the fossil fuel industry would exploit to the max.

    As for the progressive consumption tax, or Bradford X tax, it is said to be something like the European VAT only different. I’d like to understand better how that would motivate industry to act.

  21. Chris Winter says:

    Some people are still blaming Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962) for causing the malaria deaths of millions.

    See e.g. Merchants of Despair by Robert Zubrin.