bob corkerBob Corker

Sen. Bob Corker came out swinging against the climate bill that the House passed in June.

“I didn’t think it was possible, but the Waxman-Markey climate bill appears to be even more problematic than the climate bill that tanked in the Senate last spring,” he said, referring to the Lieberman-Warner bill that he voted against in 2008. “I don’t know of many special interests that don’t receive a pay-off in this [Waxman-Markey] legislation, and if it comes to the Senate floor in this form, I’ll vote against it.”

Yet Corker understands that climate change is a problem and has called for legislation to address it. In 2007, he traveled to Greenland with a bipartisan group of senators to observe the impacts of climate change, noting upon his return that the U.S. has “a unique opportunity to marry concerns … like carbon dioxide emissions and energy security.” He said he was “leaning in the direction” of supporting a carbon-trading program.

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Lately Corker has been insisting that he won’t accept anything short of a climate plan that auctions 100 percent of pollution permits and returns the money directly to Americans, and his preferred approach would be a carbon tax.

“I want to tell you that I wish we would just talk about a carbon tax, 100 percent of which would be returned to the American people. So there’s no net dollars that would come out of the American people’s pockets,” Corker told Al Gore during a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee earlier this year.

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When the Obama administration rolled out its first budget this year with a framework for a cap-and-trade plan that would have returned roughly 80 percent of the revenues from pollution permits to citizens, Corker bashed it. He called the proposal “slight of hand” and said it is a “massive climate tax increase all Americans will pay.”

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His office put out a press release shortly thereafter, noting, “Corker has worked to ensure that whatever Congress implements, be it a cap-and-trade system that acts as a tax or a transparent carbon tax, that 100 percent of the tax revenue is returned to the American people and is not used to increase the size of government.”

So it looks like Corker won’t accept anything short of a complete cap-and-dividend approach, which doesn’t seem to have much traction with most other members of Congress. Don’t count on him for a “yes” vote on whatever climate bill emerges from the Senate.

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