Carbon tax profile for Virginia (Zahra Radjavi 2005)



1990
2005
% change
1990-2005
Fossil fuel CO2 emissions in millions of metric tons [1]
95.4
129.2
+35.4%
In millions of short tons [2]
105.1
142.4
+35.4%
Population in millions [3]
6.2
7.6
+21.9%
Per capita CO2 emissions in short tons
17.0
18.9
+11.1%

Per capita emissions in Virginia in 2005 were considerably lower than the U.S. average, which was 21.4 short tons per capita [4]. Virginia's two nuclear power plants account for about a third of the State’s power generation, and natural gas- and petroleum-fired power plants account for much of the rest. [5]

A carbon tax of $30 per short ton of CO2 (about $0.30 per gallon of gasoline, or about $0.03 per kWh of coal-fired power) would have raised about $4.27 billion in 2005 (about $566 per person) in emissions, and assuming a 20% reduction a $30 carbon tax per short ton of CO2 would have raised about $3.42 billion in 2005 (about $453 per person) in emissions.

For comparison purposes, in 2005 state taxes generated about $13.6 billion. State income taxes generated about $8.35 billion (57% of state taxes), sales taxes generated about $3.1 billion (21% of states taxes), and corporate incomes taxes of $616 million (4% of state taxes). There is no state real estate tax, personal property tax and utility tax, as they are considered local taxes and are administered separately by the state’s cities, counties and towns. So a carbon tax of $30 per short ton of CO2 could (assuming a 20% reduction in emissions) have replaced the state portion of the sales tax and corporate income tax or could have replaced 41% of the state income tax.

Power generation alone emits nearly 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from all energy sources in Virginia. However, historically, Virginia has been a net importer of electricity and this position is likely to continue into the future. In 2005, 30 percent of the total power consumed in the state was imported. [7]

Virginia’s carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel consumption has increased by 35 percent between 1990 and 2005. Over this time, emissions from electricity generation increased by about 80 percent, faster than emissions growth in other areas. Most utilities rely heavily on fossil fuels. Electric power generated in Virginia primary comes from coal (about 40%), and nuclear (about 35%). Growth in natural gas emissions has been much faster than growth in coal. Transportation was the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel consumption – responsible for 43.7 percent of the state’s emissions in 2007. The increasing trends of CO2 emissions in the State of Virginia is characterized by the increase in demand for energy by power and transportation sectors. [1]

Virginia has recently developed a comprehensive energy plan for the state. The Virginia Energy Plan was prepared pursuant to legislation that was enacted in 2006, and covers all aspects of energy production and consumption in Virginia. The plan identifies four overall goals, including a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2025. This will require a reduction of 69 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MMte) CO2, reducing Virginia emissions to 161 MMte CO2. This is slightly below Virginia’s 2000 emission level of 163 MMte CO2. [7]


Trading carbon credits


Carbon reduction scheme




[1] EPA, “State CO2 Emissions from fossil fuel combustion, 1990-2007”, linked from http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/state_energyco2inv.html.

[2] Use Google to figure out how to convert metric tons to short tons.

[3] 2005 population from the U.S. Census Bureau, http://www.census.gov/popest/datasets.html. (You need to download a CSV file and open it in Microsoft Excel; you might have an easier time finding 2005 population figures from Google or elsewhere.) 1990 population from U.S. Census Bureau, http://www.census.gov/popest/archives/1990s/ST-99-02.txt.

[4] U.S. population of 295.6 million in 2005 from U.S. Census Bureau, http://www.census.gov/popest/states/NST-ann-est.html. U.S. carbon emissions of 6.317 billion tons of CO2 from EPA, http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/usgginventory.html.

[5] See state profiles from the EIA, http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/state/index.cfm.

[6] The Virginia State figures come from:

[7] Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. The Governor's Commission on Climate Change, December 15, 2008, http://www.deq.virginia.gov/info/climatechange.html