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Utah's Foremost Platform for Undergraduate Research Presentation
2022 Abstracts

The Willingness to Pay for a Carbon Tax in Utah

Presenter: Katelyn Tenney
Authors: Katelyn Tenney
Faculty Advisor: Therese Grijalva
Institution: Weber State University

In 2019, the Clean the Darn Air campaign proposed a ballot measure that would create a carbon tax (CT) of $12 per metric ton of CO2 in Utah. Upon failing to gather enough signatures for the 2020 election, they relaunched the campaign to get onto the 2024 ballot. This raises the question, what would it take to clean the darn air in Utah? My project investigates public support for CT’s in Utah by using a choice experiment (CE) to quantify willingness to pay for CT design features through higher gasoline prices. A CT is a market-based solution that is promoted by economists to correct for a market failure that arises when the full costs of production and consumption (such as air pollution and climate change) are not reflected in market prices. Other studies have used CE’s to investigate CT preferences in individual countries, such as Australia, Turkey, and the U.S., but this will be the first study focused on Utah, and thus will be an important contribution to the literature and to local policymakers in designing a CT program that garners public support. The CE will be employed via survey, in which respondents will choose between a variety of carbon tax programs that differ by the per-unit value of the tax, the tax burden, and tax revenue allocations. In addition to the CE exercises, socio-demographic and economic questions will be included to identify how individual characteristics affect preferences. The survey data, once collected, will be analyzed using a mixed multinomial logit model in order to provide the probability of a Utah resident supporting a CT given its attributes and the individual’s characteristics.I hypothesize that respondents will prefer a carbon tax with a lower price, a progressive tax burden, and revenue allocation that supports renewable energy development.