Carbon tax profile for Wyoming (Mary Durham; previous version byAndrew Skowlund)

% change 1990-2007
Fossil fuel CO2 emissions, in millions of metric tonnes[1]
Fossil fuel CO2 emissions, in millions of short tons[2]
Population, in thousands[3]
Per capita CO2 emissions, in short tons

In 2007 Wyoming's per cap emissions where about 6 times higher than the average United States per cap emissions: check out this tablefrom the US Energy Information Administration[4] . The high emissions are due in part to the extensive use of coal-fired power generation for electricity in Wyoming but is mostly due to the ratio of population to consumption by industrial fossil fuel producers. Many of the state's coal reserves are low-sulfur, making them appealing to companies with tight emissions standards. "The Powder River Basin in Northeastern Wyoming is the largest coal-producing region in the nation producing nearly two-fifths of all the coal mined in the United States. Although Wyoming’s aggregate energy demand is low, per capita energy consumption is the second highest in the Nation due to an energy-intensive economy that is dependent on fossil fuel extraction, processing, and transportation. The industrial sector, which includes Wyoming’s mining, oil, and gas industries, is the State’s leading consumer of energy." [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 $2.1 billion in 2007 (about $4,000 per person) assuming a 10% reduction in emissions. The amount per person is so high because of Wyoming's low population and energy-intense economy, although the majority of the tax burden would be paid by industrial consumers. A carbon tax on the primary producers of coal and natural gas (Wyoming's two largest fossil fuel exports) would likely result in higher prices paid by end-consumers in other states.

Total Wyoming State and local tax revenues in 2007 were about $3.3 billion, of which $2.4 billion was from business taxes. Wyoming does not have a personal income tax[6] . A carbon tax of $30 per short ton of CO2 could (assuming a 10% reduction in emissions) replace about 64% of the state taxes.

It is important to note that although Wyoming has high per capita emissions, the impacts of even a modest carbon tax of $10 per short ton of CO2 would be largely shifted to consumers of natural gas and coal that reside in other states. Similarly, environmental benefits of a carbon tax (ie: decreased use of fossil fuels and emissions) would not be realized in-state due to Wyoming's economic dependence on and exportation of fossil fuels. As of 2007, Wyoming was "the largest exporter of energy to other states"[7] . Alternative energy sources such as windpower are present but in low-demand (a small percentage of total energy usage) in Wyoming because of its low demand for electricity. However, Wyoming may someday be able to transfer electricity from renewable sources to places as far away as California: this ability would heighten the likelihood of developing more renewable energy technologies in-state[8] .

Clearly Wyoming has taken steps to utilize alternative energy, but despite its wind power facilitities being high per cap, the energy that is used compared to fossil fuels is small. [9]
Carbon offsets

external image wind_power_chart.jpg

Image Courtesy of 2006
  1. ^ From EPA, “State CO2 Emissions from fossil fuel combustion, 1990-2007”, linked from here.
  2. ^ 1 metric tonne equals 1.1023 short tons.
  3. ^ 2007 population from the U.S. Census Bureau, 1990 population from U.S. Census Bureau,
  4. ^ From US Energy Information Administration:
  5. ^ See state profiles from the EIA,
  6. ^ From Ernst & Young, and the Council on State Taxation:
  7. ^ From the Seattle Times:
  8. ^ See state profiles from the EIA,
  9. ^