Carbon tax profile for West Virginia (Andrea Ray Alessio, 2005)

% change 1990-2005
Fossil fuel CO2 emissions in millions of metric tons [1]
In millions of short tons
Population in millions [2]
Per capita CO2 emissions in short tons

Per capita emissions in West Virginia in 2005 were notably higher (approximately three times) than the U.S. average of 21.4 short tons per capita [3]. This was likely due to the use of coal-fired plants for nearly all electricity generated in West Virginia, a statistic also holding true in 2009 [4]. West Virginia is the largest coal manufacturer east of the Mississippi River (second in the Nation after Wyoming) and leads the Nation in coal production from underground mines, accounting for over half of the State's coal production [4]. In 2008, the average open market sales price of coal in West Virginia is $59.08/short ton, nearly double the 2008 national average of $32.06/short ton [4]. Approximately one-half of State households use natural gas as their main energy source for home heating [4]. While natural gas is a fossil fuel (and contributes greenhouse gases to the ozone) it is the cleanestof fossil fuels, emitting 45% less carbon dioxide than coal [5].

Coal-fired plants account for nearly all of West Virginia’s electricity generation. Several small hydroelectric facilities account for most of the remaining power production. West Virginia electricity production is high, and, although more than one-third of West Virginia households use electricity as their primary source for home heating, State electricity consumption is low. West Virginia ranks second in the Nation after Pennsylvania in net interstate electricity exports. [4]

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 $3.02 billion in 2005 (about $1678 per person), assuming a 20% reduction in emissions.

For comparison purposes, in 2005 the state portion of the property tax generated about $1.1 billion (a number comprised by $578.4 million in real estate property tax; $344.4 million in personal property tax; and, $152.1 million in public utilities property tax) [6]. The state B&O (business & occupation) tax generated about $182 million, and the state sales tax generated about $978 million [7]. So a carbon tax of $30 per short ton of CO2 (assuming a 20% reduction in emissions) could have replaced, in entirety, the combined state portions of the collected property tax, B&O tax and sales tax. Taken together, these three taxes amount to approximately $2.23 billion. If the state administered the aforementioned carbon tax (raising some $3.02 billion in 2005), a $790 million surplus results.

[1] EPA, “State CO2 Emissions from fossil fuel combustion, 1990-2005”, linked from

[2] 2005 population from the U.S. Census Bureau, 1990 population from U.S. Census Bureau,

[3] U.S. population of 295.6 million in 2005 from U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. carbon emissions of 6.317 billion tons of CO2 from EPA,

[4] State profiles from the EIA,

[5] Natural gasinformation from the Natural Gas Supply Association,

[6] Note that the state's 55 county governments administer and collect the real estate property tax and the personal property tax.River Isles

[7] West Virginia State property tax figures come from West Virginia State Tax Department (within the Classified Assessed Valuations summary documents), West Virginia State B & O and sales tax numbers derive from the State of West Virginia Department of Administration, Finance Division, Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, Fiscal Year 2005,