Business group ruffles feathers with GOP after key policy recommendation

Republicans are warning the Business Roundtable that the group could find itself in hot water with the GOP after it recently called for the creation of a carbon pricing system, a proposal experts have said could help cut planet-warming emissions.

Earlier this week, the business group released a list of policy recommendations to counter rising energy costs, spanning proposals aimed at reducing overall energy demand, upping the nation’s production and export of oil, and accelerating “the clean energy transition.”

More specifically, the group also called for the establishment of “a price on carbon that provides a clear long-term signal and incentivizes the development and deployment of technologies to lower emissions, and lead on international efforts to align potential cross-border carbon measures.”

“Business Roundtable supports a market-based emissions reduction strategy that includes a price on carbon where it is environmentally and economically effective and administratively feasible, but it does not endorse any specific market-based mechanism,” the group also said.

The recommendations drew immediate pushback from prominent Republicans, who argued the proposals would contribute to rising energy costs and harm lower-income Americans.

“We strongly oppose the BRT’s proposed energy tax that will hit lower-income families, small businesses, and those on fixed incomes the hardest while doing nothing to confront China, the world’s largest emitter of carbon,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) and Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) said in a joint statement to Punchbowl News that was confirmed by The Hill.

“Their approach would do nothing to lower gas prices or tame inflation; it calls for billions in new taxes, subsidies, corporate welfare, and government slush funds to further fuel inflation while doing nothing to roll back the Biden administration’s regulatory assault on our economy,” they continued. 

Carbon pricing refers to a range of policies that would be designed to make fossil fuel energy more expensive and give clean energy a competitive advantage. Such policies could include, for example, a system under which polluters are taxed for their emissions.

The lawmakers also appeared to take aim at proposals by the group urging policymakers to consider enacting clean energy incentives through tax credits like “the production tax credit for wind; investment tax credit for solar; standalone energy storage tax credit; hydrogen tax credit … and the zero-emissions nuclear power production tax credit.”

“Advocating for an energy tax while soliciting massive government handouts for special interests is destructive, ineffective, and unaffordable,” the lawmakers said in the statement, while also accusing the group of “pushing for crony tax credits that will only benefit special interests and Washington insiders.”

“By pushing radical policy positions like a national energy tax, the Business Roundtable will quickly find itself alongside other fading organizations who lost their way,” the lawmakers added.

Michael Steel, senior vice president of communications for the Business Roundtable, defended the group’s proposals in a subsequent statement, saying its members “support a balanced, responsible energy plan that would invest in new technologies and that incorporates many longstanding Republican priorities, including permitting reform and increased onshore and offshore energy development.”

“Business Roundtable’s proposal would lower energy prices for Americans, strengthen our economy, and allow the U.S. to better compete around the world, including with China,” he added.

The back and forth adds to a growing rift seen between House Republicans and other large business groups and organizations like the U.S. Chamber Commerce in the past year.

This story was updated at 12:26 p.m.

Business group ruffles feathers with GOP after key policy recommendation