Emissions Tax: What 2012 Presidential Hopefuls Are Saying

President Obama called on Congress and the United States to end gridlock and create a new clean energy standard when he unveiled a new energy blueprint today.

But there was a glaring omission from his speech. What he did not mention was a cap-and-trade proposal, which would place limits on how much greenhouse gas a company could emit and allow more energy-efficient companies to sell their unused "emission permits" to companies that might find it harder to reduce their emissions. Republicans defeated such proposals last year by calling them an energy tax. Democrats came within several votes of passing a cap-and-trade proposal last year.

Now Senate Republicans have launched an effort to strip the Environmental Protection Agency of authority to cap carbon emissions.

Most Republicans now oppose imposing mandatory emissions caps on U.S. companies, arguing that it would dent job growth and hurt the U.S. economy. But it wasn't always so. Republicans such as Sens. John McCain and Lindsay Graham once co-sponsored cap-and-trade legislation with Democrats, many of whom say cap-and-trade policies are needed to curb the emissions of dangerous carbon dioxide greenhouse gases.

At least three Republicans currently considering a run for the presidency at one time endorsed a cap-and- trade policy: former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Pawlenty went so far this week as to tell conservative radio host Laura Ingraham that his past support for a cap-and-trade policy was a mistake. He apologized for it.

Here's a look at where potential 2012 candidates stand on the controversial issue and how their views have evolved:

Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrinch

Former Speaker of the House

Opinion: Flipped

"If he [President Bush] had instituted a regime that combined … mandatory caps, a trading system inside the caps as we have with clean air, and a tax incentive to be able to invest in the new technology and to be able to produce the new technology, I think we would be much better off than we are in the current situation." - Frontline, Feb. 15, 2007

"President Obama wants to impose a cap-and-trade regime. Such a plan would have the effect of an across-the-board energy tax on every American. That will make our artificial energy crisis even worse — and raising taxes during a deep economic recession will only accelerate American job losses." - Newsweek, April 4, 2009

The former congressman supported President Bush's campaign pledge to impose mandatory carbon caps, arguing that emissions caps should be combined with a trading system and a tax incentive program. Gingrich even recorded a global warming commercial with then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. But Gingrich has been a vocal critic of Obama's policies, even suggesting that the Environmental Protection Agency should be shuttered. At the Conservative Political Action Conference, Gingrich argues that a global warming bill would increase electricity rates for consumers and create a massive bureaucracy.

Mike Huckabee

Mike Huckabee

Former Governor of Arkansas

Opinion: Flipped

"I also support cap and trade of carbon emissions. And I was disappointed that the Senate rejected a carbon counting system to measure the sources of emissions, because that would have been the first and the most important step toward implementing true cap and trade." - Clean Air Cool Planet Conference, Oct. 13, 2007

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