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US Chamber says it is open to carbon pricing, in change of climate stance

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 1/19/2021 Josh Siegel
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The Chamber of Commerce said Tuesday that it is open to a carbon tax, a significant shift in the business group's strategy as it moves to get ahead of aggressive action favored by the incoming Biden administration.

Marty Durbin, the president of the Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute, wrote in an email Tuesday that group now "supports a market-based approach to accelerate greenhouse gas emissions reductions across the U.S. economy."

While the Chamber is still not ready to endorse carbon pricing outright, it appears they see it as more favorable than mandates and regulations, which have become the preferred carbon reduction policy of Democrats and expected to be the path pursued by President-elect Joe Biden.

"This reflects the fact we have very broad diverse opinions on exactly which policies different segments [of its membership] support," Durbin told the Washington Examiner in an interview. "Clearly, there is consensus favoring a market based approach as opposed to a command and control regulatory approach. That is clearly the preferable path."

Durbin added the Chamber considers a carbon tax or cap-and-trade program to be a market-based approach.

But it won't take a position unless specific legislation is seriously being considered before Congress.

"Depending on details and how it's designed, that will determine whether the Chamber endorses any proposal," Durbin said. The American Petroleum Institute, the largest U.S. oil lobbying group, also recently adjusted its position to support "market-based policies" that can "foster meaningful emissions reductions across the economy."

Still, the Chamber's new position is a clear shift from its previous stance. The Chamber in recent years has acknowledged climate change is a problem that needs to be addressed, but it has favored a narrow set of policies such as funding federal research and tax breaks for clean energy technologies. It also helped broker a recent deal approved by Congress to regulate a phase down of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, a potent climate-warming refrigerant.

The Chamber, which normally opposed regulations, supported the HFC phaseout because companies collectively have spent billions of dollars researching a replacement coolant for use in air conditioners and refrigerators.

But Durbin acknowledged the Chamber and its members are facing pressure from shareholders, investors, and among its own workers, to change, and he made clear the group now supports a comprehensive federal policy to address climate change across the economy, not just a series of one-offs.

The group started reviewing its climate position in 2019, Durbin said, and "we would have gotten here regardless of the election outcome."

"But we also want to make sure we let know we are open to working with the Biden administration on durable, bipartisan solutions to the climate change challenge," Durbins said.

Tags: News, Energy and Environment, Chambers of Commerce, Carbon Tax, Joe Biden, Climate Change, Cap and Trade

Original Author: Josh Siegel

Original Location: US Chamber says it is open to carbon pricing, in change of climate stance

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