Colorado is a large energy producing state. Compared to other energy producing states, Colorado's current severance tax policies and rates are very lenient towards energy companies. There have been proposals to change these rates and policies but these proposals have been highly contested. The purpose of this thesis is to investigate Colorado's current policies and determine whether new rates and restructuring of the taxes would benefit the state of Colorado and its citizens. This paper uses past data and tax collections to create hypothetical situations for the future of Colorado's severance taxes. By studying the years of 1981-2008 a long range of effects of the potential policy change are examined. Using extraction models, rate changes are determined to have a small effect on the extraction paths and prices for crude oil. Calculations done to determine the effect of an endowment on Colorado's tax payout find a much more stable, but not necessarily larger payout.
Climate change presents an existential threat to humanity and to ecosystems across the globe. Our planet is warming and natural equilibriums are shifting. If governments, corporations and individuals fail to act we will continue to see increases in the frequency and intensity of droughts and precipitation, extreme temperatures and sea level rise (IPCC, 2018). Greenhouse gas emissions contribute heavily to the negative effects of climate change and is one area in which human activity can make a difference. Several countries have successfully priced carbon in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Colorado, as a politically and demographically diverse state has a unique ability to act on the climate crisis. We also have the responsibility to act due to our vast natural resources. This paper uses the existing literature on climate change mitigation and economic theory such as the internalization of externalities and social marginal cost to design a carbon tax for the state of Colorado. It uses survey data from 415 Coloradans about their opinions on climate change and carbon taxation policy proposals. Results of the survey show that a majority of respondents believe climate change is an urgent problem facing Colorado and that the state should take action. 56.97 percent of respondents support a carbon tax starting at 10 dollars per metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions and increasing by two dollars annually. Results also show that the majority of respondents would be more likely to support the carbon tax if revenue was reinvested in sustainable programs and if the tax significantly reduced emissions. This paper uses these results along with the theory and global examples to inform a policy proposal for a carbon tax in Colorado.