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The West’s diversity of non-carbon electricity resources (hydro, wind, sunlight), dependence on natural weather cycles (e.g., snowpack) for water supply, and reservoir of natural beauty make it the nation’s most climate-sensitive region, and perhaps also the most fertile for state and local carbon tax initiatives.

For now, the action has centered in Colorado and California. Below, we report on initiatives under way in Colorado. We hope to add reports on California and other states in the near future.

Colorado Carbon Reduction Initiative

Colorado, renowned for snow-capped mountains, an ecologically engaged citizenry, and, as of April 1, the nation’s first (and only) municipal carbon tax — in Boulder — has given birth to America’s first statewide carbon tax advocacy group — the Colorado Carbon Reduction Initiative. Spearheaded by Tom McKinnon, professor of chemical engineering at the Colorado School of Mines, CCRI formed in June 2007 and has held three meetings and, of course, launched a Web site.

According to CCRI: "The science is unequivocal that we must make rapid and drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to avoid disastrous climate consequences… Lacking any effective leadership in Washington, it is incumbent upon states to take the initiative — as many have already done. The Colorado Carbon Reduction Initiative is a citizen-based advocacy group promoting a revenue-neutral tax-shifting strategy. This policy will place a price on greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously reducing regressive and inefficient taxes. A win-win situation for Colorado taxpayers and the planet!"

CTC urges Coloradans who support putting a price on carbon to address the
climate crisis to get involved with CCRI.

Modeling and Advocating a Colorado Statewide Carbon Tax

CCRI member Sue Radford and CTC have developed a spreadsheet model to estimate the effect of different-level carbon taxes on Colorado carbon emissions, and to map preliminary strategies for using the carbon tax revenues to provide rebates to households and businesses while phasing out regressive and inefficient taxes. The model is now available here.

The model suggests that a state carbon tax rising at the rate of $37 per ton of carbon (equivalent to 10 cents a gallon of gas) for each of the next 13 years would reduce Colorado’s year-2020 carbon dioxide emissions to 80 million metric tons, from a projected level of 130 million tons (2007 emissions will be approximately 100 million tons) — an average annual reduction (relative to growing emissions) of 3.7% a
year. The revenues would be enormous — enough to permit the legislature to zero out the state Sales Tax and Business Personal Property Tax by the fifth year, even while providing generous per-resident and per-employee rebates, a supplement to the federal
Earned Income Tax Credit to assist low-income families, and a fund to finance targeted investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Last updated: January 08, 2008