PORTLAND, Ore. -

A report released Monday by the Northwest Economic Research Center at Portland State University claims a statewide carbon tax and shift policy could generate annual revenues of $1 billion or more for Oregon while shrinking income and business taxes and sharply cutting greenhouse gas emissions. 

The Oregon Legislature is currently considering four carbon tax bills: HB 2497, HB 2874, HB 2792 and SB 537.

The NERC report, “Carbon Tax and Shift: How to Make It Work for Oregon’s Economy,” recommends shifting taxes from corporate and personal income to carbon emissions.

It says the shift would more efficiently reduce the burden of taxing income while also reducing the negative impacts from carbon pollution.

The researchers crunched numbers on several ways to structure the tax and reinvest the revenue. The most promising scenarios project the tax policy would prompt positive job growth for Oregon while generating annual revenues of up to $2.15 billion over a 20-year horizon, along with greenhouse gas reductions of up to 15%.

“A carbon tax is an efficient way to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions — you tax what you want less of,” said Tom Potiowsky, director of NERC and chair of PSU’s Department of Economics. “With a policy that uses the revenue from a carbon tax to reduce other taxes, Oregon could accelerate the process of reducing those emissions while still supporting a vibrant economy.” 

Hearings are scheduled for later this month, with expected testimony from Potiowsky and Terry Lake, British Columbia’s Minister of the Environment.

NERC’s carbon tax and shift scenarios are modeled after the carbon tax structure British Columbia instituted in 2008. Oregon’s Governor John Kitzhaber has publicly joined Northwest leaders in supporting putting a price on carbon, and California implemented a cap-and-trade program in November of 2012.

Northwest Economic Research Center (www.pdx.edu/nerc), which researched and wrote Carbon Tax and Shift, was established to serve the public, non-profit and private sector community in Oregon and Southwest Washington with high quality, unbiased and credible economic analysis.

The report was funded by The Energy Foundation and Portland State University’s Institute for Sustainable Solutions.

The full report is available for download here: http://www.pdx.edu/nerc/carbontax2013.pdf. Potiowsky will be joined by Terry Lake, British Columbia Minister of Environment at a breakfast forum at PSU on March 19. (Details here.)

About Institute for Sustainable Solutions at PSU

The Institute for Sustainable Solutions (ISS) advances sustainability research, education, and outreach at Portland State, leading the University to be a powerful catalyst and model for a more equitable, ecologically balanced, and economically vibrant future. (www.pdx.edu/sustainability)

About Portland State University 

Located in Portland, Oregon, PSU has about 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students. PSU’s motto is “Let Knowledge Serve the City,” and we provide every student with opportunities to work with businesses, schools and organizations on real-world projects. Our downtown campus exhibits PSU’s commitment to sustainability with green buildings, while sustainability is incorporated into much of the curriculum.