Project Report:
R Street Institute, Market-Based Approaches to Greenhouse Gases, 2016-2017
- Investigates the causes of economic imbalances.
- Explores and develops market-based solutions.


R Street will continue work with the federal executive branch, Congress, state governments, conservative nonprofits and others to develop and promote two ideas concurrently. The first: conservatives, in particular, need more exposure to better arguments in support of pollution pricing, particularly with respect to greenhouse gasses. The second: the legislative branch must act to create a market-friendly alternative to Environmental Protection Agency regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.


Deliverable: Work in at least six states and at the federal level through meetings, op-eds, blog posts, testimony, or other outreach on reduced or zero-CO2 forms of energy as viable and competitive options for ratepayers and meet with regulators or members of legislature in at least 6 states to discuss the benefits of pollution-pricing strategies that respond to the CPP, should it be implemented.

Over the past year, R Street has conducted outreach in Texas, Ohio, Minnesota, Missouri, and Washington. We are also soon hosting an event in Virginia. We held an event in Minnesota in January 2017, focusing on carbon pricing, the Clean Power Plan, and removing roadblocks to market competition in clean energy.

In September 2016, R Street co-hosted a dinner event in Texas on how conservatives should respond to the then-pending Clean Power Plan. The event, which was attended by a range of policymakers, activists, and conservatives, including several Senate Chairmen and the state climatologist, involved a roundtable discussion of Texas’ options. Aside from the opportunity for frank discussion, the event also helped R Street refine its messaging on climate issues based on what conservatives are most likely to find persuasive. Additionally, R Street met with legislators and staff in the Texas legislative session to discuss emissions pricing legislation that was filed.

At Earth Day Texas in April 2017, R Street co-hosted the Clean Capitalism Forum, which focused on market based approaches to climate change, and was attended by a group of state legislators as well as policy experts, philanthropists, and environmental activists. Josiah spoke on three panels at the event and moderated a fourth. Legislators from Arizona, North Carolina, Connecticut, and Utah were present at the dinner and panel.
R Street hosted a dinner in Missouri, which featured conversation with stakeholders in the state on purchase power agreements (PPA) for renewable energy.

Deliverable: Publish at least 10 op-eds or magazine articles targeted to conservatives on the carbon-tax alternative

R Street published the following op-eds on revenue-neutral carbon pricing, targeted toward conservative audiences:

Centralized climate planning like Paris wasn’t going to work anyway by Catrina Rorke in RealClearEnergy, June 2, 2017

Why the carbon tax is an idea that won’t go away by Josiah Neeley in RealClearEnergy, May 10, 2017

Carbon taxes could provide the missing link on tax reform by Catrina Rorke in The Hill, April 10, 2017

The next repeal and replace by Catrina Rorke in The American Conservative, March 29, 2017.

‘Conservative’ environmental protection shouldn’t mean ‘less’ by Cameron Smith in Alabama Media Group, March 15, 2017

The anarchist case for climate action blog post by Josiah Neeley November 9, 2016.

No, a child tax is not like a carbon tax blog post by Josiah Neeley, August 23, 2016

The lukewarm case for climate action blog post by Josiah Neeley, July 29, 2016

Democrat’s climate agenda deserves a conservative response by Devin Hartman in RealClearPolicy, July 20, 2016

Why Republicans should reconsider their blanket opposition to a carbon tax by Catrina Rorke in The Daily Caller, June 10, 2016.

Deliverable: Hold small private events on the conservative case for pollution pricing with policymakers and political operatives in Ohio, Nevada, and Virginia.

R Street is in the process of organizing an event in Virginia, which will be held in August 2017. The event is timed to maximize its potential impact in collaboration with the Virginia Speaker House of Delegates.

On June 20, 2017, Josiah Neeley, Devin Hartman, and state director Alan Smith, led an electricity policy conversation and dinner with Ohio lawmakers in Columbus. The event was attended by eight legislators, including the chairs of energy committees and the authors of several pieces of legislation relating to electrical competition as well as other activists. The discussion emphasized the benefits of supporting competitive markets and how markets maximize the effectiveness of emissions pricing.

R Street did not hold an event in Nevada, as the state became a sub-optimal target for an event after the results of the 2016 election cycle. Our dinner in Minnesota, however, did touch on the conservative case for pollution pricing in the state.

As mentioned above, R Street hosted an even in Texas which touched on pollution pricing in addition to the Clean Power Plan.

Deliverable: Meet with at least 10 majority-party congressional offices to discuss carbon taxes.

R Street met with the following members, which also included a discussion on carbon pricing:

• Rep. Francis Rooney, R, FL
• Rep. Paul Mitchell, R, MI
• Rep. Roger Marshall, R, KS
• Rep. Tom Garrett, R, VA
• Rep. Mike Gallagher, R, WI
• Rep. John Faso, R, NY
• Rep. Liz Cheney, R, WY
• Rep. Ted Budd, R, NC
• Rep. Andy Biggs, R, AZ
• Rep. Jack Bergman, R, MI
• Rep. Jim Banks, R, IN
• Rep. Jodey Arrington, R, TX

R Street also discussed a carbon tax as an alternative to BAT with Speaker Ryan's office.


The current regulatory regime with regard to greenhouse gases is a textbook example of economic imbalance: many emissions are not priced at all and others are priced arbitrarily by means of regulation. Greenhouse gases impose a significant externality and are what Ronald Reagan called a "destructive trespass." Pricing them appropriately in a way that reduces greenhouse gas emissions is necessary to restore economic balance. The solution we favor--pricing--is far more market-based than the alternative ways of restoring economic balance and we aim to develop it.


The scope of this project is national with a focus on selected states where we have opportunity to make progress.

Amount Approved
$25,000.00 on 8/17/2016 (Check sent: 8/30/2016)

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Eli Lehrer
President, R Street Institute

Posted 5/20/2016 8:58 AM
Updated   7/6/2017 4:39 PM

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