Author: billboyd

EV car at charger

Washington State lawmakers are considering numerous approaches that tackle climate change in the current legislative session. (See our previous blog posts on carbon pricing and low-carbon fuels.) Among the proposals on the table are policies to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) by households, businesses and government agencies.

Current Washington EV Policies

The Washington Department of Transportation has developed a 2015-2020 EV Action Plan, which identifies 13 action items to increase EV adoption, including completion of a fast-charging network along highways and electrifying public and private fleets. This 2015 action plan aims Washington State toward the goal of placing 50,000 EVs on the road by 2020 (we are almost halfway there). Washington State also offers a sales tax exemption for the purchase of new EV vehicles, which is soon to expire (more on this later).

States with existing plans to expand electric vehicles on-the-road:

State Current EV Totals EV Cumulative Goal Goal Deadline
Washington 24,624 50,000 2020
Rhode Island 421* 43,596 2025
Vermont 943* 34,896 2025
Connecticut 2,957* 155,105 2025
Maryland 5,000* 299,392 2025
Massachusetts 5,475* 303,814 2025
Oregon 11,400 50,000* 2025
New York 12,000* 851,855 2025
California 258,000* 5,000,000** 2030

*Reported totals for 2015
**On January 26, 2018, Governor Brown announced an
executive order that would increase California’s goal of 1.5 million EVs by 2025 to 5 million EVs by 2030.

What’s proposed for Washington?
Washington can learn from Kansas City by enlisting utilities as partners. In 2015, Kansas City Power and Light chose to install over 1,000 EV charging stations, becoming the first investor-owned electric utility in the nation to install and operate its own charging network. As a result, EV adoption has already nearly doubled since the network was launched. In 2015, the Washington State legislature moved in this direction by enabling investor-owned utilities to spend a limited amount of taxpayer money on charging infrastructure.  This move was guided by a Policy Report from the Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC), which regulates investor-owned utilities.   The policy report was completed in 2017, and lays out some of the ground rules.  It is one of the most forward-thinking and comprehensive policy statements regarding EV infrastructure in the nation, and also sets the stage for more in-depth discussions about EV adoption.  A simple step this session would be to pass HB 2897, which would allow our smaller consumer-owned utilities to join the investor owned utilities in developing transportation plans and investing in infrastructure to electrify transportation. Here are a few other EV concepts on the table:

  • Extend the sales tax break for EVs (which is currently set to expire in early 2018)
  • Initiate higher quotas for state fleets and statewide EV goals
  • Offer cost-sharing incentives and/or mandates for electrification of public transportation
  • Ensure availability of EV-ready parking near affordable housing, multifamily housing, and commercial buildings

Below, we’ve compiled a brief table comparison of the four bills we consider most relevant. You can download a PDF here.

If you have further questions, or would like some follow up information, please contact Megan Conaway at And if you have a blog idea or would like to be a featured guest author, please email us to get started.

EV Bills at a Glance


Carbon Washington’s core mission includes developing policies and raising awareness about climate solutions that can appeal to both sides of the political aisle.

During the Initiative 732 campaign for a revenue-neutral carbon tax we demonstrated this by securing endorsements from Republican party leaders including:

  • Sitting legislators Joe Fain, Mark Miloscia and Steve Litzow
  • Former U.S. Senator Slade Gorton
  • Former State Attorney General Rob McKenna
  • Former U.S. Secretary of State and Secretary of the Treasury George Shultz

These efforts proved that Republicans can actively support a carbon tax if provided with the information and time to understand a market-driven, non-regulatory approach to pricing carbon that doesn’t increase taxes.

The carbon tax conversation looks to be moving in a different direction this legislative session and in the upcoming initiative season, and that is OK. The climate movement, despite decades of hard work by many of us, is in its infancy and still finding its way forward. While Carbon Washington remains steadfast in its desire to put a meaningful price on carbon, we have also started examining other approaches to achieve carbon reduction that can attract bipartisan support.

One such idea that caught our attention last year was biochar. If you’re a climate wonk — but don’t know much about biochar — don’t worry, you aren’t alone. Very few people know about biochar, despite its being an at least 2,000-year-old practice for increasing the health of agricultural soils, with the added benefit of creating long-term carbon sequestration.

You can learn more about the environmental benefits of biochar by reading further in this blog. But first we want to describe our recent efforts to educate our state lawmakers about the benefits of producing and using it.

This project has been spearheaded by CarbonWA board member and volunteer lobbyist Greg Rock. Over the past year he organized a Sequestration Workgroup of over 40 scientific and academic experts, which researched and evaluated biochar and other potential carbon sequestration pathways. This legislative session Greg has met with over 50 legislators to explain what biochar is and how it presents a potential economic and environmental opportunity for our state, as well as advocating for a carbon tax.


Updated Carbon Tax Bills MatrixThree carbon tax bills have been introduced in the 2018 legislative session, as of January 18th. SB 6203 proposed by Governor Inslee is sponsored by Senate Energy, Environment and Technology Chair Reuven Carlyle (D-36th LD) and a large group of Democrats. Senator Ranker (D-40th LD) introduced SB 6096 and Senator Hobbs (D-44th LD) introduced SB 6335.

Our Carbon Tax Matrix (above | download PDF) is designed to provide an overview of the most important differences between these bills. A short discussion of some of the key policy areas follows the table. Of course, there is no substitute for reading through the actual bills if you want to fully understand the different programs and elements of each proposal.

All of these policies focus on taxing the carbon content of fossil fuels and electricity consumed within Washington State. They all exempt fuel brought into the state in vehicle fuel tanks as well as fuels and electricity exported from the state; provide a credit against carbon tax previously paid on the same fuel or electricity in other jurisdictions; and have other technical details in common. (more…)

Mike Massa 1

Hello, CarbonWA friends: Washington may be one small step closer to passing a price on carbon! The Senate Energy, Environment and Technology Committee held a hearing Tuesday on Gov. Inslee’s proposed carbon tax bill. More than 30 individuals and organizations spoke in favor — and nearly 70 more signed in as supporters.

Carbon Washington co-chair Mike Massa joined Gail Gatton from Audubon Washington and a representative from the League of Women Voters to testify in favor of the bill. All three organizations are members of Advocates for a Carbon Tax Now (ACT NOW).

“We believe that pricing carbon pollution is a necessary step for reaching our state’s emission reduction goals,” Mike told the senators. “SB 6203 is a constructive proposal that gets many of the big policy pieces right. (more…)

Submitted by Mike Massa, Board Co-Chair of Carbon Washington

January 16, 2018

Thank you, Chair Carlyle and the members of the committee, for this opportunity to provide testimony in support of SB 6203.

Mike Massa 1I am writing on behalf of Carbon Washington, a statewide, nonpartisan, grassroots organization focused on accelerating the transition to a vibrant clean-energy economy. We advocate for policies to reduce carbon pollution in ways that are effective, fair, economically sound, and politically feasible.

We believe that pricing carbon pollution is a necessary step for reaching our state’s emission reduction goals. SB 6203 is a constructive proposal that gets many of the big policy pieces right.

This bill proposes a steadily rising carbon tax covering most of the state economy, creating a strong market incentive for all of us to use energy more efficiently and transition to cleaner sources. That price signal will also motivate both entrepreneurs and established companies to develop innovative clean energy solutions that drive economic growth. Importantly, the proposed tax rate is predictable, enabling businesses and households to plan their budgets. In addition, the scope of exemptions is relatively narrow; and the requirement for EITE’s to demonstrate a substantial impact on their competitiveness before receiving one is responsible.

If there is a Legislative consensus to spend some of the revenue from pricing carbon pollution, then we would prefer to see the funds directed mainly towards two areas: 1) offsetting the economic impact of the tax on low-income households, and 2) projects that further reduce emissions and help our communities adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change. We also believe it is important to include strong planning and oversight processes to ensure that taxpayer money is spent effectively and efficiently.

SB 6203 appears to meet those criteria, though we would like to see an analysis of the projected financial impact of this bill on households in the bottom 40% by income. We encourage you to strengthen the relief for vulnerable citizens if modeling shows their net tax burden would increase under this proposal.

Finally, we encourage you to discuss ways to provide some tax relief for middle-income households, who are struggling to get by in both economically depressed areas of Washington and increasingly unaffordable urban centers.

In conclusion, we believe that SB 6203 is a good starting point for acting on the state’s responsibility to protect its people and natural resources from the threat of climate change. Thank you for considering our remarks. Carbon Washington looks forward to working with you on bipartisan clean-energy policies that enable our state to prosper.

Watch the video on TVW.

CO2 smokestack

Hello, CarbonWA friends:

Read on for the latest news of carbon tax news as the legislative session begins! But first, we are concerned about what appears to be a coordinated effort to lower expectations going into the session. After 10 years of inaction on climate, key legislators are now saying 60 days isn’t enough time to get climate done (see here, here, and here). This reminds us of the kind of thing you might tell your teacher in elementary school: “I haven’t made much progress on my homework assignment (for over 10 years!), and because the due date is coming up so soon, I should be given extra time.” But we remember when the legislature passed the 2014 Boeing tax cuts in 4 days, so we aren’t buying the not-enough-time story. We know this session will be a big lift, but the legislature’s assignment to protect the climate and future generations is already overdue.

Please join us in raising expectations that the legislature will pass a climate policy, because they have the time, skill, and mandate to do so. You can write a letter to the editor of your local paper, contact your legislators on social media, or write them directly to tell them you expect action. (more…)

Inslee State of State 2018


SEATTLE, WA – January 9, 2018 — Carbon Washington welcomes Gov. Inslee’s proposal. We believe it’s a meaningful start that gets many important things right.

We support effective, equitable, economically sound, evidence-based, and politically feasible carbon-reduction policies. We are encouraged by what we heard outlined in the Governor’s carbon tax proposal today, and we will continue to review and provide analysis on it in the coming days.

We believe effective climate policy requires bipartisan support, and the Governor’s proposal offers a great opportunity to begin overdue conversations on both sides of the aisle — as well as from Washington’s environmental, business and progressive groups — about how to move forward.

The legislature has already waited too long to take action on climate. As we’ve said many times, the climate won’t wait. 60 days is plenty of time for the legislature to act on this issue. We urge and expect our elected officials to demonstrate leadership and take much-needed action on climate this session. (more…)

Happy New Year 2018

Hello, CarbonWA friends: Happy new year! A number of you were unable to read our previous newsletter due to a technical glitch, so to catch you up: We published a blog analyzing whether a city could pursue a carbon price to reach its climate goals, and we announced that we exceeded our match (!!!) from November, raising over $8,000 against our original goal of $4,000. Read on for a summary of our work in 2017 in what was a year of transition and advocacy for CarbonWA, along with an update on upcoming events for the legislative session.

2018 Legislative Session Sign Up! 

As the legislative session kicks off, review our analysis of the upcoming legislative session’s prospects, check out the recent support for carbon pricing from Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz, see this piece in the Olympian from Representative Drew MacEwen opposing a carbon tax (where he holds up the Scandinavian nations as models, but fails to mention that they all rely on carbon-pricing systems…whoops!), then see the recent announcement from The Nature Conservancy, Quinault Tribe and the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy that they’ve agreed to work together on a potential initiative. Be sure to stay tuned for more on potential initiatives and an analysis of the governor’s forthcoming carbon pricing proposal(more…)

Gov. Jay Inslee 2San Francisco, 18 December (Argus) — Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D) will try to take advantage of a new Democratic majority in the Legislature to pass a carbon pricing bill next year.

Inslee on 14 December proposed using a price on carbon to support the state’s primary and secondary education system and end a long-running fight with lawmakers over how best to comply with a 2012 court ruling that said the state had not adequately funded its schools.

“This is the best way that I believe is both fiscally responsible, fulfills our educational mandate to our kids, and simultaneously gives our kids a Washington state that is not ravaged by climate change,” Inslee said. “We need to act.” . . .

Advocates for a carbon price in Washington say that the momentum is on their side.

“We think it is a question of when, not if, the state will adopt a carbon pricing program,” said Kyle Murphy, executive director of Carbon Washington, which sponsored an unsuccessful carbon tax ballot initiative in 2016.

Murphy framed Inslee’s proposal as an opening bid and said he expects lawmakers to submit different versions of carbon pricing bills next year.


ACTNOWHello, CarbonWA friends:

Check out this recent Mother Jones article, “Will Washington Pass the Nation’s First Carbon Tax?” featuring CarbonWA and the upcoming legislative session. As we outlined in our legislative analysis, the path is tough this session, but not impossible. Stay tuned for more on 2018, but first, read on for an update on our fundraising match.

Thanks to the tremendous support of dozens of donors we’ve raised $4300 completing our match well before the end-of-the-month deadline! If you’ve already given to the match — thank you. By completing this match, we can fund our operation through the end of the year. However, to get a running start into next year our board has offered to match an additional $2,500 bringing the new fundraising goal to $6500! (more…)