A carbon tax makes complete sense to me. It taxes the activities that have a direct connection to increased atmospheric carbon, allowing a natural movement away from those activities due to cost. I like that this inspires innovation and the tax generates the revenue to allow citizens and business enough rebate to discover alternatives. However, in coal dependent states far from Washington, the reality on the surface looks very different. But what if it isn’t? My home state of West Virginia has severe economic and environmental needs right now. Could a carbon tax be the solution?
While I’m not an economist, economic theories posit that the market will support the most cost-effective solution. When extracting and burning coal becomes more expensive than the revenue it creates, the state and its businesses will be forced to determine an alternative. This is a change that must happen, regardless of whether or not there is a carbon tax. West Virginia can–and should–be more than just coal.
It would not be effective if only implemented at the state level in West Virginia, but a federal carbon tax mandate might level the playing field enough to support some innovation. While our neighbors to the north in Pittsburgh are testing self-driving cars, and the tech industry’s innovation is evident in cities all around us, West Virginia is stagnating, and falling way behind.
In my estimation, there are already too many casualties. A carbon tax could be like ripping off the band-aid and starting the potentially painful process of healing.