A group of veteran conservative political leaders are launching a political-action committee to push for a U.S. carbon tax, a move potentially funded by several large corporations that could test Republican appetite to act on climate legislation.
The effort would put financial, advertising and lobbying muscle behind a policy proposed last year that called for taxing carbon emissions and returning the revenue as a dividend to Americans. Janet Yellen and Ben Bernanke, who both chaired the Federal Reserve, are among a number of individual and corporate supporters of the plan.
The new group, called Americans for Carbon Dividends and co-chaired by former U.S. senators Trent Lott and John Breaux, hopes to build momentum for legislation that Congress could pass after the 2020 presidential race.
Exelon Corp. , a utility, plans to provide $1 million in funding for the campaign. A number of major corporations that have already come out in support of the policy are weighing financial commitments to the political group, including Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC, according to people familiar with ongoing funding talks. The proposed legislation would protect fossil fuel companies from future climate-related lawsuits.
“The tide is turning on the realization that something needs to be done in this area,” said Mr. Lott, a former Republican majority leader in the U.S. Senate. “And the dividend changes everything. The money goes back to the people instead of into the dark, deep hole of the federal government.”