This is pretty awesome. I'd like to know who the biggest carbon polluters are in Illinois to get an idea how much money we are wasting by letting these companies pollute for free.
Turns out the federal government keeps such a list.
The biggest polluter in Illinois is a huge coal power plant owned by a Texas utility Dynegy. The Baldwin Plant alone pollutes 12 million tons of carbon (out of a statewide total of 91 million). Most of the 91 million is from coal power plants. And we don't charge them anything for that pollution.
The market price for a ton of carbon pollution is apparently about $12/ton. If Illinois decided to quit subsidizing these polluters and had them pay the market price for their pollution, we'd generate more than a billion dollars -- annually. (91 million tons times $12/ton).
To put that in context, all the debate over lowering the state income tax from 5% to 3.75% will cost about $3 billion. We could lower the income tax even more down to 3.25% with the money we could raise from charging polluters a market price.
Thanks to the feds compiling this data (which is only about half the total carbon emissions), we're in a place to sketch out what a fee on carbon pollution might actually generate. That's very helpful.