Date of Award

2018

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Department

Environmental Program

First Advisor

Donna Ramirez-Harrington

Second Advisor

Amy Seidl

Keywords

carbon tax, environmental sustainability, climate change, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York

Abstract

To date, there are a number of states that have proposed a carbon tax with meaningful support behind them. This paper will focus on New York, Massachusetts, and Vermont due to their political backing as well as each state’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Many states are modeling their tax plans after the one conducted in British Columbia and focusing on tax rebates as a key feature. By recycling the revenue generated back to consumers and businesses, the negative effects of the tax can be mitigated.. This paper conducts a comparative analysis between the British Columbia carbon tax with three U.S. state legislative proposals. Furthermore, evidence of high observed tax salience on gasoline consumption is projected onto each carbon tax plan. Assuming similar aggregate consumer behavior between residents of British Columbia and these states, Vermont, Massachusetts and New York will see gasoline consumption reduced by 42.9 million gallons, 395 million gallons, and 2.887 billion gallons respectively. Vermont would see a reduction in emissions by 0.381 million metric tons from gasoline consumption over 8 years, a 3.8 percent reduction of their 9.99 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions (MMT CO2e) in 2015. The Massachusetts proposal would reduce 3.5 MMT CO2e from gasoline consumption, a 5% decline over 7 years. The New York proposal is the most stringent, with an estimated 25.657 MMT CO2 being abated through decreased gasoline sales over 11 years, which represents 14 percent of 2015 total emissions.

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