With less than 50 days until the Utah State Legislature opens, Democratic state Rep. Joel Briscoe is preparing to unveil a plan that would introduce a state carbon tax.
A final version of the proposal has not been officially released as some of the details are still being worked out. Briscoe, who is a co-founder of the legislature’s Clean Air Caucus, said that, given the eventual rise in energy costs, it will be important to ensure that low-income Utahns won’t be burdened.
“A proposal that’s making the rounds that’s on the ballot in the state of Washington would give some of the money back to people who are below a certain income level,” Briscoe says. “Because energy costs will increase somewhat, heating your home will be a little more expensive and forms of energy will be a little more expensive, we want to make sure no one is harmed and no one is priced out of the market. We’ll make sure that they’re taken care of.”
Briscoe maintained that the plan could be done in a revenue-neutral way, possibly through a tax cut in another area of the state budget. He added that much of the inspiration for the proposal has come from examples seen around the world.
“We’re modeling a lot of the actual writing of the bill after British Columbia, who for eight years has had a carbon tax,” he said. “Despite that carbon tax—or maybe because of that—their economy has grown slightly faster than the rest of Canada. It has not damaged their economy.”
The government of British Columbia optioned for a revenue-neutral carbon tax plan in 2012. The province now has some of the lowest corporate and personal income tax rates in Canada.
Briscoe said that his plan would focus the tax “upstream,” charging fossil fuel producers.