Supporters of a carbon tax were very visible in Washington this week. Ben Geman of the Hill newspaper reported that former Representative Bob Inglis (R-SC) has launched an “Energy and Enterprise Initiative” to promote global warming alarmism and a carbon tax among political conservatives. His operations are being sponsored by George Mason University, a Virginia state university in Fairfax, an outer suburb of Washington, DC.
Inglis has taken on an odd project. He was defeated for re-election in 2010 in the Republican primary by a Tea Party-backed candidate, Trey Gowdy. One of the main issues that contributed to Gowdy’s 71 to 29% margin of victory was Inglis’s continual attacks on fellow House Republicans for not getting on board the global warming bandwagon. Inglis was never a conservative while serving as a Republican Member of the House and has no credibility within the conservative movement.
The American Enterprise Institute, on the other hand, has earned a lot of credibility over many decades within the conservative movement for its principled and intellectual defense of free enterprise and business. Thus it came as a surprise when Greenwire reported on 11th July that AEI was that day hosting the fifth meeting of a group plotting to enact a carbon tax.
I was sent a copy of the group’s agenda the same morning that Greenwire reporter Jean Chemnick was sent a copy. The one-page agenda is headlined “Price Carbon Campaign / Lame Duck Initiative: A Carbon Pollution Tax in Fiscal and Tax Reform.” The 12:45-6:00 meeting included presentations and discussions on “Congressional Republicans, Romney, and Business Leaders: Detoxifying climate policy for conservatives,” “Framing and selling a carbon pollution tax,” and “Building bipartisan support and navigating Ways and Means.” The full agenda was attached to an article by Sean Higgins for the Washington Examiner.
A list of attendees at the AEI meeting has not been released, but the discussants include leading environmental and leftwing political operatives. For example, Alden Meyer, strategy and policy director of the Union of Concerned Scientists (a far-left pressure group) who previously served as executive director of the League of Conservation Voters; Kevin Curtis, program director of Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project; and Tom Downey, prominent DC lobbyist, former Member of the House (D-NY), and since 2007 husband of Carol Browner, who served as EPA administrator for eight years in the Clinton Administration and for two years as President Obama’s White House global warming and energy czar.
AEI’s participant in this ongoing effort to enact a carbon tax is Dr. Kevin Hassett, director of economic studies at AEI. An indication that his position is not popular at AEI was provided by Dr. Kenneth Green, an environmental scientist at AEI who specializes in climate policy and energy issues. Energy Wire (a sister publication of Greenwire) published an article on 13th July on another senior establishment Republican coming forward to support a carbon tax—George Shultz, secretary of State in the Reagan Administration. Here are Green’s comments to Energy Wire:
“There seems to be an eruption of conservatives—very moderate-seeming conservatives, non-tea party, old country club-style conservatives—who are suddenly enamored of carbon tax,” said Kenneth Green, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
“I think this is mostly vanity and egotism on the part of these people who are coming forward, to try and reassert the Republican establishment over the tea party revolution,” he added.