Statement from Carbon Washington’s Board of Directors
Climate change is the critical issue of our time. Carbon Washington supports Initiative 1631 because we have a moral responsibility to protect our children and grandchildren by tackling climate change now to leave them a cleaner, healthier, and safer world.
Our state legislature has failed to enact any of the serious carbon reduction proposals that were introduced over the past 10 years. We are running out of time to prevent the extreme climate impacts that will occur with continued reliance on fossil energy. The unusual weather events our region experienced in some recent years provide a preview of those impacts. We saw record-low winter snowpack combined with record-high summer heat stress on forests, crops, fish, and workers; warmer and more acidic coastal waters; and more severe storms driving flooding, landslides, erosion, and polluted runoff. The citizens of Washington simply cannot afford to wait any longer for their elected officials to take action on this threat to our economy, communities, and way of life.
A strong, steadily rising price on carbon pollution is the most effective, and our preferred, policy tool for reducing emissions. I-1631 would enact a meaningful price on carbon while funding projects to advance clean energy resources, energy efficiency, electrification of transportation and heating, sequestration of carbon in natural lands, and other actions that reduce emissions. I-1631 would also fund important investments in forest and water resources to help adapt to the impacts of climate change in our state.
We are pleased that the sponsors of I-1631 have put a serious plan on the table. Carbon Washington has provided extensive analysis of the measure and how it compares to previous carbon pricing proposals (SB 6203 and I-732). Though we have concerns about some of the policy choices made by the authors of I-1631, we believe that, on balance, the measure is worth supporting. As we said many times in our campaigns to pass I-732 and subsequent carbon tax legislation, we cannot afford to let perfect be the enemy of good.
Washington State is well positioned to show the nation that carbon pricing can both reduce emissions and help create the prosperous clean energy economy of the future. We encourage Washington voters to sign the petition to put I-1631 on the November ballot.
Media inquiries: Email email@example.com or call Samara Villasenor at 206-478-5643.
Initiative 1631 is the latest iteration of carbon pricing to come to Washington state. It was filed by a coalition including the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy, The Nature Conservancy, and a number of Washington’s Tribal nations. The following analysis looks at features of the ballot initiative in comparison to the recent legislative carbon tax proposal (SB 6203) that passed out of two senate committees and Carbon Washington’s 2016 carbon tax initiative (I-732). This analysis compares their ability to reduce emissions and offset any disproportionate impacts of pricing carbon, leaving discussion of political strategy and the use of other investments (like forests/water/rural economic development) to future blog posts.
This analysis is not meant to be an endorsement of the initiative or to suggest opposition to it. (more…)
It’s the final week of the legislative session. While there was growing support for carbon taxes from the public — with multiple lobby days advocating for legislators to pass a carbon tax — we won’t get a carbon tax passed this session. SB 6203 passed out of the Senate Committee on Energy, Environment, and Technology and then the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. It had the potential to be brought to a floor vote to possibly pass the legislature with no such luck on a viable floor vote.
To assess whether the bill would likely pass a floor vote, Senators did an internal vote count. Senate leaders ultimately felt the bill fell one to two votes short. Although this shows meaningful progress, it also continues a trend of nearly a decade of inaction by our elected leaders.
Just a day after the bill died, the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy officially filed its initiative for a carbon tax. They announced this news on their website. The “Protect Washington Act” aims to increase investments to accelerate the state’s transition to clean energy, restoration efforts for water and forests, and mitigation of climate change impacts on communities. The Alliance aims to get this initiative on the November 2018 ballot by gathering at least 259,622 certified signatures before early July.
Early this week, Senator Doug Eriksen filed a carbon tax bill that is very similar to the Alliance’s legal language. Unlikely to pass this session, filing a bill so similar to the initiative will generate a fiscal note, which will forecast the impact of the initiative on the state’s budget.
In 2016, I-732 was the nation’s first carbon tax initiative on the ballot. Although it didn’t pass, it led to four carbon pricing bills in the 2017 legislative session, and created the momentum for SB 6203 in the 2018 session.
Washington seems headed for a carbon tax. Opponents achieved nothing more than slowing the inevitable trajectory towards a clean energy future. We will closely watch the “Protect Washington Act” and share updates on our policy blog.
Onwards and Upwards!
The whole Carbon Washington team and guest author Myah Vasquez, a Carbon WA intern
Statement from Kyle Murphy, Executive Director, Carbon Washington
After a decade of inaction on climate change, our elected leaders have a duty and obligation to enact public policy to reduce carbon. It is clear that people in Washington want action. The legislature’s continued failure to do so is disturbing.
SB 6203 made history as the first carbon tax in the country to be voted out of two legislative committees, and by coming within a single vote or two in the Senate. The support from environmental, tribal, and business interests was groundbreaking and builds on considerable progress in Washington to elevate a conversation about climate change and a price on carbon. While I-732, the nation’s first carbon tax initiative put to Washington voters in 2016 didn’t pass at the polls, it was the basis for four carbon pricing bills introduced in the 2017 legislature, and created an opportunity for the legislature to seriously consider SB 6203 in the 2018 session.
Climate action in Washington is coming. Opponents of this bill achieved little beyond a temporary delay in our inevitable trajectory toward a clean energy future. Carbon Washington will now focus its efforts on putting a price on carbon this year at the ballot or next year in the legislature.
Future generations are counting on us, and we will continue to mobilize citizens, provide leadership, and advocate for effective, equitable, economically sound, evidence-based, and politically feasible policies to address climate change.
The mission of Climate XChange is to provide policymakers and advocates with cutting edge information on market-based solutions to climate change.
By Jonah Kurman-Faber, Communications and Policy Fellow, Climate XChange
Carbon pricing efforts are not just picking up steam in New England, a similar fight is underway in the northwest. On Thursday afternoon Washington’s state Senate Committee on Ways & Means approved a substitute bill of Governor Jay Inslee’s carbon tax legislation. Inslee has been a climate champion in the Northwest, pushing multiple carbon pricing initiatives since 2015 despite substantial resistance from the legislature and courts.
His 2018 plan has been in constant flux since it was introduced last month but has achieved significant victories this month, namely passing both the Senate committee on Energy, Environment, and Technology and the Senate committee on Ways and Means. But discussions around this bill are still running hot – various groups and officials have come out with hard stances for/against the various design factors of the bill, particularly the list of industrial exemptions. As such, here is a quick dive into the bill’s current status, what industries are exempt, and whether these exemptions make sense.
The Current Bill
Passing this bill through the Senate Committee is a huge victory – to our knowledge it is the first time that a carbon fee was voted on and passed by subnational politicians – but there is still a long way to go. The most recent version calls for a price tag of $12 per ton of carbon starting in 2019, increasing annually by $1.80 per ton starting in 2021 until it reaches a cap of $30 per ton in 2030. This is a more modest proposal than the Inslee’s original plan, which started at $20 per ton, had a 3% percent increase in price each year with no cap.
With regards to exemptions, the bill recognizes that “some industries are energy-dependent and trade-exposed and thus have independent incentive to be energy efficient. These industries are exempt from carbon taxation in order to allow them to remain globally competitive and ensure these industries and jobs remain in Washington.” The idea makes sense on paper, as long as it’s done fairly – the bill proposes that the department of commerce establish an objective numerical process for evaluating industries that qualify for exemption.
However, the bill subsequently lists a whopping 67 industries, listed by their North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) codes, that are guaranteed exempt status “notwithstanding the criteria established”. In addition to these industries, the bill also exempts “transition coal power”, which is catered towards TransAlta’s few coal-fired power plants in the state that are still transitioning to natural gas. This raises concerns for local advocates – why establish an objective numerical process for determining exemptions, only to prematurely exempt large swaths of polluting industries? (more…)