The American Petroleum Institute, the oil and gas industry’s top lobbying arm, is edging closer to endorsing a carbon tax, a tool that would make fossil fuels more expensive, boost prospects for renewable and nuclear energy, and curb pollution that is driving climate change. But a paper being weighed by an API policy committee would back a carbon tax as an alternative to federal regulation and policies aimed at slowing climate change. And many analysts and lawmakers doubted the sincerity of any such API move because it is highly unlikely Congress would adopt a carbon tax — allowing the trade group to appear to support climate action while risking little.

The draft statement, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, says that “API supports economy-wide carbon pricing as the primary government climate policy instrument to reduce CO2 emissions while helping keep energy affordable, instead of mandates or prescriptive regulatory action.”

API’s president Mike Sommers is eager to be part of those discussions, especially to prevent limits on drilling, moderate regulations on methane emissions and influence the terms of the climate plans required by all signatories to the Paris climate accord, which the United States just rejoined.

Environment and climate groups doubt that the draft endorsement was significant. Maya Golden-Krasner, deputy director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute, said “the API’s move would be little more than a public relations ploy, and the Biden administration shouldn’t be taking policy cues from the standard polluters’ playbook.”

Some members of API favor bolder movement on climate change.

“It’s encouraging that API is moving in this direction,” said one member of the group, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect business relationships. “But the rubber hits the road when there’s policy. It’s the right direction if you want to see API engage in the right way with the administration and be part of these discussions. The question is how will this be applied to actual policy proposals.”