Republican Preaches Heresy Backing a Carbon Tax

Photograph by Andre Kudyusov/Getty Images

Carbon dioxide emissions from a coal-fired power plant.

Former South Carolina Rep. Bob Inglis blames his efforts to combat global warming for the intra-Republican challenge that cost him his South Carolina congressional seat in 2010. That hasn’t deterred him.

Since the loss, he has traveled the nation making the case to students and grassroots Republican activists that a carbon tax is both good policy and politics, Bloomberg News reports.

“This really is a conservative position,” Inglis told a classroom of students at Florida State University last month. “An energy and climate answer might not just unite the Republican Party, but it also allows us to get some independents and progressives to support us as well.”

Inglis advocates a carbon tax that would apply to the carbon-dioxide emissions from coal, oil or natural gas. He says the revenues should be used to offset cuts in other taxes. Such a tax would let the market come up with the best way to cut emissions, and replace “big government” regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency and billions of dollars in energy subsidies, he said.

The proposition is still no easy sell to his fellow Republicans.

“It’s not going anywhere,” Texas Republican Joe Barton, the former chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said, when asked about Inglis and the carbon tax.

Because of Inglis’ self-described“heresies” on climate change, immigration and the bank bailout of 2008, he drew four challengers in a Republican primary in 2010. And he was defeated by the Tea Party-backed Trey Gowdy.

“The problem, in a way, is that I’m the worst commercial for what I am talking about,” Inglis, a 53-year-old lawyer, said in an interview. Still, Inglis says that creating support among grassroots Republicans could give elected representatives the ability to reach for a conservative answer to global warming.

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