In an earlier post arguing that any carbon tax that emerges from a real political process is not likely to closely resemble academic theory, I said that:
It doesn’t require complete cynicism to observe that political coalitions are not entirely composed of philosopher-kings debating the good of humanity. Trillions of dollars of assets and millions of jobs will be threatened by pushing a huge portion of a currently widely-distributed tax burden onto a subset of the economy. What do you think the reactions of the good people of Wyoming, North Dakota, and Alaska will be to the idea of paying for huge tax cuts for their beloved countrymen in New York, California and Florida? The senators for any 20 states can block most legislation. In my original NR article, I described how, in a presidential election, this dynamic would likely play out to punish harshly any candidate foolish enough to propose such a tax.
In support of this, consider the following quick chart that I did (inspired by analysis that I remember from Roger Pielke, Jr.) that compares the % of the 2004 vote that went for Bush to CO2 emissions per capita by state:
Now correlation doesn’t imply causality, and there are many reasons for such a correlation, but it does point to the idea that there is a natural, in fact basically pre-existing, Senate coalition to charge an enormous toll on the rest of the country for agreement to aggressive abatement of carbon emissions.