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I interned for a landfill gas capture company a long time ago. Apparently it’s quite tough to make payback on the investment.

If value is applied to the degradation and GHG abatement, some groups might find it worthwhile.




In this case it sounds like something that could be subsidized by the government if it provides a net benefit to the general populace (by reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere).

Flaring it early would produce most of the GHG reduction benefit. The resulting CO2 has a tiny fraction of the total warming potential of the unburned CH3. For cases where it isn't economical to recover the methane, the public still benefits.

Most of the GHG reduction benefit in terms of the GHG contribution of the methane itself. However, there is also the benefit of the fossil fuel combustion that is displaced if you collect and burn for power. This is exactly the sort of thing that a carbon tax would incentivize if it were at all economically sensible.

So long as there's a positive carbon return on adding the extra infrastructure.

There very well may be, but adding pipes to burn off excess methane is way easier than generating and transporting electricity.


Another argument for a comprehensive GHG emissions tax...

Taxes aren’t the solution to everything. Just causing prices to rise has a lot on unintended consequences. If you raise taxes on a bakery and it has to shut down, you just lost jobs as well as a source of bread, this making bread more expensive which hits hard for those people that now no longer have jobs.

If you eliminated all gasoline cars tomorrow, there isn’t enough infrastructure to support electrics. When cars first came out, you didn’t have to convince people to use them by taxing horses: cars were more efficient than horses.

You don’t have to artificially make something worse to encourage something better. The something better should just naturally be better, making a switch obvious.

If you use energy efficient appliances, you save money on your utilities. Given the same quality, more efficient (and lower cost) is always preferred and a rational actor will choose the lower cost option that solves his need at the level he wants it solved.

That “green” stuff is more expensive is an engineering problem. If someone develops an electric car that costs the same or less than an ICE car and has the same or better performance and quality, people will naturally buy them — and the company that can do that stands to win big. But making everything else worse/more expensive to prop up tech that isn’t as good or affordable is trading what’s best for the individual for what’s best for the owners/employees of the less efficient producer.

I am in favor of government funded basic science, research, innovation (it brought us NASA after all,) however I oppose funding that by the selective targeting of industries in order to artificially boost the viability of a new tech. We didn’t have to kill horses to get people into cars. We won’t have to kill ICE cars to get people into better alternatives. We are already producing less CO2 emissions and the relevant tech is already getting cheaper and better. The market is slowly working and it didn’t take a tax to do it. And when it comes to markets, slow is good; it minimizes the negative effects of economic reallocation.


Taxes are a way for the market to price in externalities that aren’t effectively captured otherwise like the climatic impact of GHG emissions. To not capture this amounts to a subsidy paid by non-polluting industries to polluting ones. It corrects an imbalance.

The way carbon tax is implemented in Canada is to return the tax to folks at the end of the year, keeping none of it, but correcting that imbalance.


> If you eliminated all gasoline cars tomorrow...

A carbon tax would not eliminate all petrol cars tomorrow, would it? It would increase the price of fuel, which would encourage some to make their next vehicle an EV in place of ICE. It would inevitably encourage cities and petrol stations to add EV infrastructure too.

Not entirely sure how the US taxes vehicles, but personally I would put some combination of fuel (carbon) tax, increasing monthly well in excess of inflation and a vehicle tax that cost some combination of vehicle weight and emissions. The combination effect of which would be to discourage ICE, pickups and 4x4s whilst encouraging smaller EVs.


Clearly increasing gas taxes doesn't eliminate petrol vehicles, because I've been to Europe (where gas prices are radically higher than the US — +50-100%) and they still have cars there. Yes, the incentives structure means those cars are smaller, lighter, and more efficient — and in many countries, increasingly electric — and that's a good outcome / example of how taxes apply positive pressure.

Can they sell the captured methane in the greenhouse gas markets?



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