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.