Indiana Law Journal

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2019

Publication Citation

94 Indiana Law Journal 751 (2019)


This Note uses two recent Massachusetts carbon tax proposals to discuss the costs and benefits of such state-level climate change legislation but discusses similar regional proposals as well. Although a state carbon tax poses some limitations and concern for the increased tax burden relative to other states that have not imposed a tax, the adoption of state carbon taxes represents an important advancement in climate policy. Part I overviews legislative tactics used to combat climate change thus far, including common policy responses, and the current attitude of federal legislators toward the global climate crisis. Part II introduces the advantages and common criticisms of a carbon tax policy and concludes that a carbon tax would be an effective policy option. Next, Part III discusses recent state carbon tax proposals, focusing on the efforts of northeastern states to enact the nation’s first carbon tax law. Two Massachusetts proposals, Senate Bill 1821 and House Bill 1726, are introduced to provide the basis for an analysis of state carbon taxes. Finally, Part IV discusses the possibility of effective state-level climate change policy and analyzes the costs and benefits of the Massachusetts state proposals. This Note argues that states, especially population-dense states such as Massachusetts, should adopt state-level carbon taxes to reduce their respective share of carbon emissions and supply momentum to the climate change movement.