Hello, CarbonWA friends: Read on for a lobbying action on 2/19 and more carbon tax news! But first, let’s pause to take stock of this moment. 2018 feels different compared to previous years we’ve worked on climate issues. There is still a risk that nothing will happen, but it feels like the debate has shifted, permanently, in favor of action. We’d encourage you to put on Bob Dylan’s ‘The Times They Are A Changin’ and let the lyrics set the tone for the rest of the legislative session.

ACT NOW virtual lobby day!

February 19th: On Presidents’ Day, CarbonWA and our partners in the ACT NOW coalition are putting on a virtual lobby day. Please join us in demanding action on climate and carbon pricing at this critical time. You can participate in 3 ways: You can call your legislators from home; you can join us at our office sometime between 2 and 6 p.m. to call your legislators, socialize, and call other volunteers to remind them; or travel to Olympia and meet with your legislators in person (we’ll have CarbonWA reps in Olympia to help you, but we determined that our resources were better used generating calls from all over the state, so we aren’t putting on a full-fledged in-person lobby day). You can also check out 350’s youth climate lobby day if you are traveling to Olympia.

**Please Sign Up Here To Join The Virtual Lobby Day!** 

Legislative Update (carbon tax and more!)

We reached the first legislative cutoff this week, which means that bills following the normal pathway needed to pass out of their house of origin to continue consideration. The carbon tax is still alive because it plays by its own set of rules, called “necessary to implement the budget” (NTIB), which means it can move through the process any time and is not subject to cutoff. Of the bills we were tracking, notably the low carbon fuel standard failed to advance, but a handful made it past the cutoff:

  • HB 2839 – Creates a “Carbon adder” (shadow price) in utility planning process (plus some other utility regulation changes) – Passed House 64:34.
  • HJM 4014 – Biochar memorial – Passed House 97:0. Scheduled for hearing in Senate Agricultural Committee on Tuesday 2/20.
  • HB 1144 – Amends the state’s statutory GHG limits per Ecology recommendation (deeper reduction targets). Passed House 50:48.
  • SB 6187 – Permits consumer-owned utilities to invest in electrification of transportation (similar to investor-owned utilities) – Passed Senate 39:8.

On the carbon tax front, a 2nd substitute version of the carbon tax bill has just come out (find it here). While we haven’t finished analyzing the new substitute, it mostly looks like the previous version (our analysis of the 1st sub here) with the notable difference that it starts at $12 per ton (the original version started at $20, and the 1st sub started at $10). On Thursday, we testified before the Ways and Means committee in support of the bill with a number of CarbonWA friends, including Ben Silesky, Matt Stidham, Kevin Tempest, Bill Adams and others. While this bill isn’t strong enough to fully address Washington’s climate responsibility, we would still be the first state in the nation to pass a carbon tax, and this bill would provide a foundation for further progress in the years to come.

We are hopeful that the bill will be strengthened, passed out of committee, and modified as needed to pick up a handful of Republican votes to pass the Senate as a whole. This will require leadership from key members of the Democratic leadership in the Senate who have been non-committal about how hard they will push the bill (like majority leader Sharon Nelson, featured here with John Kerry touting a carbon tax, and Ways and Means Chair Christine Rolfes, who said she isn’t putting a carbon tax in the budget but is going to let it “play out’).

Other Climate Action Events!

February 17th-on: Legislator town halls are occurring all over the state, with many occurring on 2/17. This is a great opportunity to ask your lawmakers whether they are committed to passing climate legislation, including a price on carbon, in front of their other constituents. You can look up your town hall at this link, and if you do get a question into your lawmaker, email us afterward to fill us in on what they say.

February 19th: ACT NOW virtual lobby day: more details above!

February 28th: We are holding a happy hour in Seattle at 5:30 pm at Blue Star Cafe and Pub. Please join us to celebrate our progress, get the latest on the climate policies, and socialize with other climate friends. Check it out on Facebook, too!

March 8th: Session ends. It’s a short one – so be sure to keep up with our newsletters for the latest to stay in the loop! And, in the meantime, check out Cascadia Climate Action for a great calendar of events on all things climate.

Other News

Be sure to read the recent piece in the Seattle Times covering John Kerry’s visit to Olympia in support of carbon pricing. We were happy to see the piece quote Republican Senator Joe Fain as supportive of a B.C. style carbon tax and wanting to see tax reform folded into the conversation, but we were less enthused that the Alliance still, after many years of work on this, “hasn’t yet settled on a carbon price” in their initiative draft. You may also want to check out this interview with Governor Inslee in The Stranger that discusses the carbon tax at length and rightly gives shout outs to the superhuman efforts from Senators Reuven Carlyle and Guy Palumbo. In other news, supporter Marty Bishop published this excellent LTE about 4 climate bills in the Kitsap Sun. Finally, in last week’s email we meant to write that “we need to remember that the cost of inaction on climate dwarfs the cost of action.”

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The CarbonWA Team