Advocates for bipartisan climate change reduction legislation say Exxon’s commitment Tuesday to spend money lobbying for a carbon tax is a turning point in making that happen.

“Today’s announcement represents the first time in history a U.S. oil and gas supermajor is throwing significant financial muscle behind a direct price on carbon,” Greg Bertelsen, the senior vice president of the Climate Leadership Council, told the Washington Examiner in an interview. “To get over the finish line will take time. But this is an important step in the process."

Oil and gas giant Exxon committed Tuesday to provide $1 million over two years to a group promoting a carbon tax and dividend plan.

It’s a rare move for a corporation whose products would be taxed by such a plan to actually put up money to support implementing it.

Exxon will give the money to Americans for Carbon Dividends, an advocacy organization that was set up in June to lobby Congress to support a carbon tax-and-dividend plan proposed by the Climate Leadership Council, a group led by two former Republican secretaries of state, James Baker III and George Shultz.

Exxon is the first oil and gas company to provide funding to Americans for Carbon Dividends, following other contributors Exelon, the large utility, First Solar, and the American Wind Energy Association.

BP and Shell also support the plan, but have not yet put money towards it.

The Climate Leadership Council proposal would impose a carbon tax beginning at $40 per ton, and give the proceeds to the public through rebates, while scrapping carbon regulations imposed by the EPA.

And it would protect oil and gas companies from lawsuits by states and cities blaming them for climate change.

The plan would raise the cost of natural gas and coal, and likely, gasoline prices and energy rates, although backers claim that it would allow for rebate checks to consumers to more than offset the financial hit.

Most economists consider a carbon tax to be the most efficient way to combat climate change, because it provides a financial incentive for energy companies to reduce their emissions through innovation, without government regulations.

"I am very glad to see Exxon stepping up here," Bob Inglis, founder of, and a former six-term congressman from South Carolina, told the Washington Examiner. "It's counterintuitive that Exxon would be for a carbon tax until you think it through. They are going to turn heads with people realizing it's in Exxon's interest to have a carbon tax. They are being good citizens, but it's also great business for Exxon."

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a panel of scientists convened by the United Nations, warned in a report Sunday night that putting a high price on carbon is crucial to transform the energy system to prevent the worst impacts of climate change as soon as 2040.

Bertelsen said the Climate Leadership Council plan, which is revenue-neutral, would reduce U.S. carbon emissions more than the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, its main initiative to combat climate change that encouraged utilities to switch away from coal to natural gas and renewables. The Trump administration has proposed a more limited plan to replace former President Barack Obama’s initiative.

“What’s most important about our plan is it’s politically viable,” Bertelsen said. "It has support from industry and environmentalists. Succeeding will require all sides of this issue coming together and compromising. That is made easier because Exxon and and several of their peer companies have long supported a price on carbon.”

There’s momentum for a carbon tax in other important places too. Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida, the co-chairman of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, this summer introduced carbon tax legislation, becoming the first Republican in a decade to introduce a national climate pricing bill.

His legislation differs from the carbon tax-and-dividend model.

It would impose a tax beginning at $24 per ton of carbon dioxide in 2020, rising 2 percent annually above inflation. At the same time, it repeals the federal taxes on gasoline, diesel, and aviation fuels, and would use the revenues from the carbon tax to fund improvements to infrastructure. Two other Republicans, Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Francis Rooney of Florida, have co-sponsored the bill.

Some powerful conservative groups, such as Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, oppose a carbon tax, showing the continued unpopularity of the idea within the Republican Party. A week before Curbelo introduced his legislation, all but six House Republicans voted to approve a nonbinding, GOP-leadership-backed resolution declaring a potential carbon tax harmful to the economy.

Bertelsen says he sees progress.

“While sometimes Congress can lag beyond where the public is, the trend lines are clear,” he said. “We think that is creating motivation for Congress from both sides to come together and find a policy solution.”