A federal gasoline tax of around fifteen cents is reportedly being considered as a possible sweetener to help passage of a Senate climate bill. The most ironic thing about the tax, however, is not that it is being championed by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina--although is pretty crazy in its own right--it is that the gas tax idea was concocted with the input of oil companies, including Shell, BP and ConocoPhillips.
Jim Tankersley writes at the Los Angeles Times:
"Proponents call the tax approach under consideration a "linked fee," because it links the extra cost for gasoline to the average cost of greenhouse gas emission permits created through a so-called cap-and-trade system for electric utilities. That system would set a declining limit on emissions from power plants and force utilities to buy permits, on a trading market, to emit heat-trapping gases. Under the linked-fee proposal, gasoline taxes would rise intandem with the prices of industrial emission permits, or fall if the price of permits declines."
But even though Shell, BP and ConocoPhillips may be throwing their support behind a new federal gas tax--errr, linked fee, the rest of the oil industry has yet to chime in on it, including the American Petroleum Institute (API). The API has spent considerable time and resources in 2009 lobbying against the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill, including the organization of a national campaign of "grassroots" rallies to voice opposition to its passage.
But the API is also on record supporting action on climate and at some point they will have to back their promises up with actions. Proponents of a climate bill say if the gasoline tax is enough to keep API from embarking on a big campaign to block and discredit the bill, it would be a major coup.
In whatever form it comes to the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid said he was working to get at a climate bill to the floor of the Senate before July 4. "A lot is waiting until we get the bill. I'm pushing very hard to get the bill," Reid told reporters in the Capitol on Tuesday.