Oil Majors Join Lobbying Push for U.S. Carbon Tax

(June 24, 2019) — Bloomberg reports that oil companies, automakers, and consumer products manufacturers are poised to launch a campaign for a U.S. tax on carbon dioxide emissions, even though it may lead to higher prices for their products. BP and Royal Dutch Shell are reported to be contributing $1 million each to the Americans for Carbon Dividends advocacy campaign, underwriting efforts to persuade Congress to enact a carbon tax-and-dividend plan. Ford Motor Co. is said to be signing on as a founding member of the group and its underlying initiative, the Climate Leadership Council.

Carbon tax proposals impact propane indsutry bpn 062419At the same time, dozens of corporations, including Capital One Financial Corp., software company
Salesforce.com Inc., and health care giant Kaiser Permanente will also be lobbying Congress for a carbon tax, according to Bloomberg. Leaders of Public Service Enterprise Group Inc., consumer products maker DSM North America, and Nature’s Path Foods Inc. were scheduled to appear at a news conference on Capitol Hill before meeting with lawmakers on the issue.

The news agency comments that fossil fuel companies have been shifting their positions on climate change, namely in response to pressure from investors and growing public alarm about what is purported and widely believed to be Earth’s warming temperature. Further, economists have long favored a carbon tax as a simple, predictable approach to establishing a price for greenhouse gas emissions, which are said to drive climate change.

“Shareholders, younger Americans, and Americans who live in coastal communities who are especially exposed to climate change are demanding action by the government and also by leading corporations,” said former U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a Republican from Florida who sponsored a carbon tax bill before losing his House seat in 2018. “American companies want predictability and sustainability, and this is the most efficient way of reducing carbon emissions while protecting economic growth.”

Nonetheless, Bloomberg observes that carbon tax efforts face headwinds on Capitol Hill, where Republicans have repeatedly voted against the concept of a new tax on carbon dioxide. During a May House Ways and Means Committee hearing on climate change, Texas Republican Kevin Brady summed up his position: “We believe a carbon tax is not the solution to address our environmental challenges.”

But some companies are hedging their bets. A new coalition of corporations and environmental groups calling itself the CEO Climate Dialogue outlines its ambitions for long-term federal policy “to protect against the worst impacts of climate change” without insisting on a carbon tax. Conversely, BP and Shell’s contributions are benefiting a campaign for a carbon tax-and-dividend plan that’s already being underwritten by ExxonMobil Corp., renewable power producer EDF Renewables Inc., and nuclear power generator Exelon Corp. The moves follow Shell’s recent decision to abandon a refining trade group over its climate change policy stance, and BP’s lobbying this year in support of a cap-and-trade plan in Washington state.

The initiative backed by the two oil companies would impose a nationwide price on carbon dioxide emissions—starting at $40 per ton—with the promise of deeper reductions in greenhouse gas than would be achieved through existing laws. For businesses, the plan also promises two potent prizes: a shield against climate-
related lawsuits tied to past, legal emissions and the end of federal regulations targeting greenhouse gas releases.

Under the plan, carbon tax revenue would be redistributed to households in the form of quarterly divi- dend checks, an idea endorsed by economists as a way to help insulate poor and middle-class Americans from the resulting higher energy costs. The initiative has emerged as a favored business alternative to the more aggressive Green New Deal, the plan championed by environmental activ- ists and Democrats to rapidly decarbonize the U.S.

(SOURCE: The Weekly Propane Newsletter, June 24, 2019. Click to receive a subscription directly to your inbox each week.)