Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said a carbon tax "is worth putting on the table" during a panel discussion yesterday with Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) sponsored by the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
"I know that a price on carbon is one that makes Republicans more than a little bit nervous," continued Murkowski. "But I do think that can be and that should be one of the options that is on the table for discussion, in terms of how you can move policies forward," she said.
Sen. Murkowski is correct to note that carbon taxes, which raise the cost of gasoline and household energy bills, face significant political opposition as voters have a well-established track of rejecting carbon taxes on the ballot.
Last Congress, 229 House Republicans voted in favor of an anti-carbon tax resolution. In 2019, a coalition of 90 conservative and free-market organizations penned a letter to Congress opposing any form of a carbon tax. Sen. Murkowski’s support for a carbon tax would make her the only Republican in the Senate on record backing such a tax.
Even the panel moderator noted he was “struck” that Sen. Murkowski “in a state where oil and gas production is so critical, was willing to look closely at carbon pricing.”
Sen. Murkowski’s call for a carbon tax is indeed shocking given that roughly 85% of Alaska’s state budget is funded from oil revenues.
When pressed by the event’s moderator to explain how her plan would deal with low-income Americans facing higher energy costs, Murkowski suggested using the generated revenue for wealth redistribution. “As you know there have been proposals if there is a price, how you can rebate that to individuals, how you can help with transition assistance. These are the types of policies, and discussions, that must be had,” said Murkowski.
Translation: Murkowski suggests using the revenue generated from a carbon tax to send apology checks to poor Americans for raising their energy costs.
Sen. Murkowski’s comments seem to reference carbon tax and rebate legislation pushed by progressive advocacy groups like Climate Leadership Council and Citizens’ Climate Lobby. According to a recent study from the Tax Foundation, a commonly proposed carbon tax and rebate plan (starting at $50 per metric ton) would raise taxes by $1.87 trillion over ten years, kill 421,000 jobs and reduce GDP by 0.4 percent.
Americans for Tax Reform urges Sen. Murkowski to take carbon taxes completely off the table and instead focus on policies that reduce energy costs for American consumers rather than add to their burden.