Exxon: Carbon Tax Would 'Play A Significant Role In Addressing Rising Emissions'

President Obama indicated yesterday in a press conference that a carbon tax is not high on his Administration’s priority list. Nor does the policy have much support from leading Republicans in the House of Representatives.

But with chatter about carbon taxes in both conservative and progressive Washington political circles growing into a serious bi-partisan conversation, influential players are chiming in with their support.

Speaking to Bloomberg News, oil and gas giant Exxon reiterated its support for a carbon tax yesterday. A spokeswoman for the company said that the tool could “play a significant role in addressing the challenge of rising emissions.”

“Combined with further advances in energy efficiency and new technologies spurred by market innovation, a well-designed carbon tax could play a significant role in addressing the challenge of rising emissions,” Kimberly Brasington, a spokeswoman for the company, said in an e-mail. “A carbon tax should be made revenue neutral via tax offsets in other areas,” she added.

Exxon’s political action committee gave nearly $1.2 million to political candidates in the past two years, 93 percent of it to Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Exxon is the biggest U.S. natural-gas producer. A carbon tax could boost demand for natural gas in U.S. power plants, as gas emits half the carbon dioxide as coal when burned to make electricity.

This is not a new policy stance. The company came out in favor of a carbon tax in 2009 so that it could point to something it did support while lobbying against the cap and trade program being considered in Congress at that time.

“As a businessman it is hard to speak favorably about any new tax,” said Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson in January of 2009. “But a carbon tax strikes me as a more direct, a more transparent and a more effective approach.”

Exxon appears to be sticking to its original position now that there are more serious discussions underway about how to price carbon.

Earlier this week, anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist said that swapping a carbon tax for a cut to the income tax might be acceptable to conservatives — a position that he has expressed before. However, Norquist walked those statements back a day later while facing pressure from the American Energy Alliance, a fossil fuel advocacy think tank supported by the Koch Brothers.

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