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Capitol Hill’s most powerful Republicans say advocates who have been discussing a carbon tax behind closed doors are wasting their breath.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), speaking through aides, have stated their opposition to the concept in recent days.

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel had a one-word answer when asked, on Friday, whether the Speaker would ever consider a carbon tax to help address climate change and the deficit: “No.”

Similarly, McConnell spokesman John Ashbrook said Monday that “Leader McConnell opposes a national energy tax.”

While their positions are no surprise, the categorical opposition underscores the hurdles facing an ad hoc, left-right coalition of activists and policy wonks who have held a series of meetings in private to discuss the idea.

The most recent meeting was last week at the headquarters of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, as reported by The Hill.

Backers of carbon taxes say the policy would help curb greenhouse gas emissions, and raise revenues to help battle the deficit or enable reductions of other tax rates.

A draft of the agenda prepared for last week’s meeting included representatives and scholars with groups such as the Union of Concerned Scientists, AEI, Public Citizen, the free-market group R Street, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, ConservAmerica — formerly Republicans for Environmental Protection — Taxpayers for Common Sense and others.

The Hill, 16 July 2012