Obama trading Keystone XL for a carbon tax?

There must be some fans of The Walking Dead at the White House and the DNC these days, because there are apparently some bad ideas which never die, no matter how many stakes you drive through them. One of these is the carbon tax, not so subtly invoked during the State of the Union address, and now making a comeback with some of the usual list of suspects in Congress. But this time it may be coming with a twist. You want your Keystone XL pipeline and all of the jobs, opportunity and energy advantages it offers? Well show us the money.

Having failed to lower the sea levels in his first term, President Obama, in the first SOTU of his second term, highlighted the need for fighting climate change and proposed an Energy Security Trust Fund to siphon off money from those who actually produce abundant and useable energy to fund alternative energy sources which constitute a rounding error in the percent of energy produced by various sources.

Two days later, Senators Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., dutifully introduced carbon tax legislation to put the nail in the coffin of those fossil fuels President Obama blamed for causing Superstorm Sandy, droughts and floods, stopping just short of a plague of locusts.

The bill would impose a $20-per-ton fee on so-called carbon polluters allegedly driving climate change.

The timing certainly is curious – assuming you slept through the last decade that is – but the national appetite for a carbon tax doesn’t seem to be there, thankfully. With the price of natural gas remaining low and availability high, combined with discoveries of increasing domestic oil deposits, people in a struggling economy can see the benefits waiting in the wings. Businesses who provide most of the jobs in the country are paying attention as well.

Manufacturing is a key driver of the Dayton-area economy and industry insiders say a carbon tax would hurt a fragile recovery.

“I just think that it’s national suicide,” said Greg Knox, CEO of Franklin-based Knox Machinery. “In talking to my customers, we’re just appalled by the fact the government would choose to consider some of this legislation in light of how many problems we have now in our economy.”

The GOP has managed to get kicked around in the polls pretty badly lately on issues from gun control to the sequester. It might be time to shift the conversation a bit and get back the high ground by focusing on something where there’s a clear majority in favor of their positions. The pipeline and opposition to any form of national carbon tax could be a couple of good places to start.