Alaska isn’t exactly the first state you’d expect to embrace a price on carbon. Yet the state legislature will likely be weighing one after the November elections. When carbon taxes keep getting scrapped by blue states like Washington and Oregon, why would such a plan succeed in Alaska: a red state where oil companies are a major economic lifeline?
Necessity is one explanation. Alaskans have been at the forefront of climate change for decades now, facing melting permafrost, coastal erosion, and rising seas. And dealing with these problems — building new infrastructure and relocating communities, for instance — is expensive. By 2030, climate change could add another $3 to $6 billion in costs to public infrastructure alone. A carbon tax could help pay for the state’s ballooning climate costs.
Last year, Governor Bill Walker, an Independent, established a group to figure out how to address the state’s climate issues.