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Hello, CarbonWA friends: To tell you the truth, we’ve had doubts about whether carbon pricing could move forward this session. But last night, the Senate passed a carbon tax out of committee, inspiring hope that they may well be up to the task!

We are encouraged by the action yesterday in the legislature. There is a broad, bipartisan consensus that carbon pricing will cut pollution, accelerate clean energy, and honor our obligation to future generations. We urge our elected officials to show leadership by moving this bill forward swiftly. We need to ACT NOW.

Read on for more analysis, and check out the photos from the hearing and from a team of talented climate leaders who stopped by Sen. Reuven Carlyle’s office on Lobby Day.

Carbon tax passes out of committee (!)

At 8 p.m. yesterday evening, the Senate Energy, Environment, and Technology (EET) Committee voted to pass a modified version of Gov. Inslee’s carbon tax (SB 6203) bill out of committee with a “do pass” recommendation. This is just the first step in what will be a lengthy process, but we are feeling a little bit like Joe Biden after Obamacare passed … so forgive us when we say “this is a big $%@^ing deal.We are pretty sure this is the first carbon tax in U.S. history passed out of a state legislative committee. More importantly, this proves that citizen movements can change things. Qualifying a carbon tax initiative on a shoe-string budget, touring the entire state making the case for carbon pricing, demanding action and commitment from our leaders, holding lobby days, recruiting allies, preparing for additional initiative campaigns, writing our newspapers, going to rallies and happy-hours; our efforts are working. The next step for the bill is the Ways and Means Committee, and if it passes, then to the floor of the Senate.

You can watch the entire executive session, but a few moments from the session are worth highlighting:


Senator Carlyle
: “The global trend, around the world is a for a modest, thoughtful, carbon pricing effort.

Senator Sheldon: “We are at a crossroads,” “carbon is a huge issue,” and “I’ll get a lot of criticism for this. So what.” Sheldon, who caucuses with the Republicans, has not historically been an advocate on pricing and climate issues. We were impressed and surprised to see him step up and vote yes. It took courage on his part.

Senator Hobbs: “Not enough going into the transportation budget,” “I’m still going to vote no but maybe, hopefully, there’s a chance with further negotiations I’ll be willing to vote yes on the floor.” We were disappointed that Hobbs is holding out for more transportation money instead of taking this chance to join in moving historic climate action forward; hopefully he can get to yes.

Please consider sending thank you messages to the following legislators for their work on this.

  • Sen. Carlyle D-36 (the committee chair and leader): Reuven.Carlyle@leg.wa.gov
  • Sen. Palumbo D-1 (the tireless negotiator and bill drafter): guy.palumbo@leg.wa.gov
  • Sen. Ranker D-40 (a longtime advocate): Kevin.Ranker@leg.wa.gov
  • Sen. Sheldon D/R-35 (who deserves thanks for his courage): Timothy.Sheldon@leg.wa.gov
  • Sen. Wellman D-41 (a steadfast supporter): lisa.wellman@leg.wa.gov
  • Sen. McCoy D-38 (a vital voice for tribes and the environment): john.mccoy@leg.wa.gov
  • Sen. Hawkins R-12 (a thoughtful Republican, he abstained (it’s called ‘no recommendation’) instead of just voting no. Let him know we want him our team!): brad.hawkins@leg.wa.gov

Carbon tax bill changes and other legislative movement 

The carbon tax version that passed out of committee looks significantly different than the original introduced by Gov. Inslee. While some of the changes are improvements and reflect comments we submitted to the committee, other changes were clearly included to placate industry and other stakeholders, like the lower price and additional exemptions. You can see the major changes in our updated carbon tax matrix. We’ll provide additional commentary on the bill in the days ahead.

Yesterday, a number of other bills we are watching moved out of committee as well. HJ4014, the biochar memorial shepherded by board member Greg Rock passed unanimously (more about our work on biochar here). A “carbon adder” bill, SB6424/HB2839 that would (among other things) apply a carbon price to utility planning processes passed out of committee. Another bill, SB 6253, a clean electricity that would limit new fossil fuel electricity plants moved out as did another clean electricity bill, HB 2402supported by the Northwest Energy Coalition that would strengthen and extend I-937. In addition, the low carbon fuel standard bill (HB 2338) passed out of the House Environment committee earlier this week. (Read about our testimony in support here.) It heads to the House Transportation Committee for a hearing on Monday, February 5.

We support a carbon tax as the strongest and most efficient approach to combat climate change, but we are still pleased to see these other bills move forward.

Upcoming climate action events!

February 15th: CarbonWA and ACT NOW are hosting our legislative strategy calls. Want to get involved in the session or get the latest scoop on the prospects for climate action? Get the call in information by emailing megan@carbonwa.org

February 19th: On President’s Day we are holding an ACT NOW lobby day to help us finish the session STRONG. Join us one more time in Olympia to demand action on climate and carbon pricing NOW. The 19th is also Youth Climate Lobby Day, so you can attend both events! Please sign up here so we can begin setting up meetings, arranging carpools, and developing the program for the day!

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!

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Onward!

The CarbonWA Team