There’s money in that there exhaust.

Well, this is unexpected. From the (conservative) Washington Examiner:

On Wednesday, the conservative American Enterprise Institute [AEI] hosted a secret meeting with other Washington, D.C., think tank officials, including members from several prominent liberal ones, to discuss how to build political support for a carbon pollution tax.

The discussion even apparently raised the subject of trying to get the upcoming post-election “lame duck” Congress to address the issue.

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Representatives from such liberal groups as Union of Concerned Scientists, Public Citizen, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and the Brookings Institute, the Climate Action Network and Clean, Air-Cool Planet joined centrist groups such as the Concord Coalition, Taxpayers for Common Sense, and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies and conservatives scholars from AEI and R Street, a group that broke away from the Heartland Institute.

“Liberal groups” like the Union of Concerned Scientists. Got it.

The 5-hour meeting was titled “Price Carbon Campaign/ Lame Duck Initiative.” The first session on the agenda was titled “Congressional Republicans, Romney and Business Leaders: Detoxifying climate policy for conservatives.” This was followed by discussions titled “Progressive/Social Justice Groups,” and “Economists and deficit hawks.”

The second session was titled “Framing and selling a carbon pollution tax.” It included discussions “Building bipartisan support and navigating Ways & Means” and “Honing the case for a carbon pollution tax.”

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When asked about the discussion, the AEI responded:

In recent years, AEI has been accused of being both in the pocket of energy companies and organizing to advocate a carbon tax. Neither is true. AEI has been, and will continue to be, an intellectually curious place, where products aren’t influenced by interested parties, and ideas from all are welcome in seeking solutions for difficult public policy problems.

There’s no question that the gathering is a surprise. Despite the AEI’s statement, they’re not exactly known for their embrace of the environment.

But considering ways in which to increase the cost of carbon pollution is not a surprise at all. The recent success of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in the Northeast has a number of states revisiting the idea of implementing similar programs. RGGI’s reductions in pollution and energy use while increasing revenue to the states demonstrates the feasibility of the “carbon tax” about which the Examiner is so agog.

In about 15 seconds, the right-wing blogosphere is going to go apoplectic. Remember: Some forms of steam generation are actually good for the planet — like when it ends up coming out of climate-denier ears.