Those who make big money off oil interests are wasting no time nipping a new carbon tax in the bud.

Before such a proposal ever reaches Congress, a coalition of conservative and energy interests—including the American Energy Alliance, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute—sent a letter to House Republican leaders on Tuesday decrying such a move.

"A carbon tax is a policy with one definable goal: to raise the cost of traditional, reliable, affordable sources of energy," the letter reads. "Now is the time for Congress to make its voice heard on this important issue." 

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The thing is, no such carbon tax policy has even been proposed in Congress.

A lobbying group led by Thomas Pyle, the head of President Donald Trump's energy transition team, is worked up because a coalition of conservative economists and former legislators, called Americans for Carbon Dividends, plans to launch a public campaign this fall in favor of taxing carbon emissions.

The conservative-led group says it will propose a $40 tax per ton of carbon emissions that, both sides agree, would add about 38 cents to the price per gallon of gasoline. 

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Americans for Carbon Dividends is backed by three of the largest oil companies—Exxon Mobil, BP, and Shell—and has the support of former Federal Reserve chairs Janet Yellen and Ben Bernanke as well as former Senate Republican leader Trent Lott of Mississippi. It also has support from environmental groups such as Conservation International.

The group sees the carbon tax as an alternative to EPA carbon-emissions regulations that are under attack in the Trump Administration.

They say the proposal could cut carbon emissions in the U.S. even more than the country pledged under the Paris Climate Accord, which President Trump withdrew from last September.

Flooded car in parking lot. Photo via Flickr user waitscm/CC2.0

Flooded car in parking lot. Photo via Flickr user waitscm/CC2.0

Yellen called taxing carbon as an incentive to reduce energy use "absolutely textbook economics," in an interview with The New York Times.

Money from the tax would be returned to taxpayers as a dividend that could amount to $2,000 a year, according to the group's proposal.

The group is not introducing the proposal to Congress. Instead. it will try to build public support through a series of ads its plans to air this fall.

“It’s not going to happen overnight; we’ve been debating this for 30 years," said Lott, but he added, "I really do think the tide is turning."

In their letter to House Republicans, the American Energy Alliance and its backers said the tax would have no measurable impact on climate, noting that a 20 percent reduction in CO2 by the year 2100 would reduce global temperatures by 0.02 degrees Celsius.

The Paris Climate Accord set a target of limiting increases in global temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius in that time frame.

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