The several dozen transportation industry groups that raised
questions about where the upcoming Senate climate change bill would
send proceeds from its new "linked fee" on carbon fuels can stop
worrying -- because it looks like the legislation won't contain any new
tax on motor fuels.
Kerry (D-MA) (Photo: Getty)
As Sen. John Kerry (MA), the climate bill's chief Democratic
Reuters late yesterday:
"There is not even a linked fee. There's not a tax,
there's nothing similar."
for clarification about the fee, Kerry then said, "certainly not the
way it was described previously, nothing like that." The Massachusetts
Democrat refused to elaborate.
Kerry was more direct in a response to the
Houston Chronicle, stating: “The gas tax is 18.4 cents today, and
it'll be that when this bill is passed.”
His comments do not rule out the possibility of some charge on
carbon-based fuels remaining in the bill, but they cast significant
doubt on the scenario that Washington transportation watchers had feared
most: extra fees that oil companies would pass on through higher costs
at the pump, amounting to a de facto gas tax hike without guaranteed
revenue for road and transit projects.
The oil and gas industry had responded favorably to the prospect of
a predictable fee they could market as a response to climate change,
effectively shifting any negative consumer response onto Congress rather
than fuel producers. American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard
last month that a carbon charge would "soften the reaction" among
his member firms to a national cap on greenhouse gases.
The challenge of addressing transportation emissions, which account
for about one-third of the nation's total output, could end up pushing
the release of the Senate climate bill beyond its original Monday
deadline. Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC), the measure's sole GOP backer so
CongressDaily that Monday remains "the hope" but is not set in