Tom Borelli

It’s a bad omen for free enterprise, prosperity and liberty when normally warring special interest groups such as big business and progressive activists agree on public policy.

During President Obama’s first term big business interests led by the pharmaceutical industry joined the union lobby in successfully making ObamaCare the law of the land.

Shortly after Obama’s re-election, history may be repeating itself this time regarding energy policy.

While it’s known that politics makes strange bedfellows none can be more bizarre than former White House green jobs czar Van Jones and Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson agreeing on a carbon tax.

Coincidentally, just ten days after the presidential election, Van Jones co-authored a commentary, “To end the fiscal showdown, tax carbon,” and on the same day Bloomberg News wrote an article, “Carbon tax: Exxon backs Obama plan to impose climate change fees.”

In the latter story an Exxon spokesperson said, “Combined with further advances in energy efficiency and new technologies spurred by market innovation, a well-designed carbon tax could play a significant role in addressing the challenge of rising emissions.”

As we witnessed with ObamaCare, the key to progressive legislative victory is converting a powerful opponent to a potent ally.

Transforming Exxon into a lobbyist for the left-wing’s war on fossil fuels is a huge coup for progressives and it’s been years in the making.

After hammering Exxon as the enemy of the environment for more than a decade and the public relations headaches that it brings to the board room – the company was ripe for waving the white flag.

Exxon faced the full armada of the environmental advocacy complex. Activist shareholders and protests at the company’s annual shareholder meetings were part of the advocacy targeting the company.

Activist groups also tracked Exxon’s financial support for conservative public policy organizations that conflicted with their view that industrial activity is responsible for global warming.

In an effort to repair its public image and lower its public profile Exxon ended its financial support of many conservative organizations and the company went soft on its global warming position.

A carbon tax meets both Exxon’s financial and public relations needs which also meshes with Obama’s war on coal.

Since coal emits twice as much carbon dioxide than natural gas, coal would be preferentially harmed by a carbon tax and open the door for Exxon – the largest producer of natural gas in the U.S. – to fill the void for electricity generation.


Tom Borelli

Tom Borelli, Ph.D., is a Senior Fellow with FreedomWorks.

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