Week 1 (May 1-7): Learn about the various proposals and think about what is important to you. .
The carbon tax bills: The Seattle Weekly was among the first to cover Senator Palumbo’s carbon tax bill, introduced on April 20th. Carbon Washington provided an analysis of this bill (SB 5930). Earlier, in January, Investigate West pointed to a possible sticking point in the governor’s carbon tax proposal. Any proposal will likely undergo significant changes during the budget negotiation, so don’t count out any bill just yet. This was signaled in the joint article by Crosscut/Investigate West published earlier in session.
The bill sponsored by Representative Joe Fitzgibbon and backed by the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy (HB 1646) would spend the money on a clean-energy transition, and would not direct any funds towards education. It received a partial support from 350 Seattle,which wanted amendments to the bill “to include stronger emission-reduction goals that are included in HB 1372.” CarbonWA has taken a neutral position; our testimony on the bill is here.
Senator Hobbs’ bill (SB 5385) was introduced early, and is currently in the Senate Energy & Environment committee. It would direct half of the money to K-12 transportation. The remaining share is spread out for stormwater funds, habitat restoration, energy investment, and highway maintenance. Senator Palumbo’s bill, SB 5930, in many ways is an updated version of Hobbs’ bill. You can read our analysis of Palumbo’s bill here.
Governor Inslee’s proposal (SB 5127) is currently in the Senate Rules Committee. The majority of revenue is directed towards K-12 education, and the remaining is spread out for “energy efficiency, electrification of transportation, and other activities that will further cut greenhouse gas emissions in the state.” Audubon WA supported both the Governor’s and Alliance bills. 350 Seattle did not endorse this bill, “based on its limited funding for green energy, its failure to address climate justice, and because of its exemption for the state’s only coal-burning power plant.” CarbonWA is generally supportive of this bill but is concerned about the coal exemption.
Don’t get too fixated on a single proposal, because it is likely that these bills will be heavily modified if any one of them is to pass. Instead, think about the most important factors for you and be prepared to communicate them to your legislators. For CarbonWA, the important thing is that any bill be effective, equitable, and politically feasible.
On the national level, carbon taxes are gaining momentum. Although Republican lawmakers are hesitant to introduce legislation, many have vocally supported the idea of a carbon tax, such as the one modeled by the Climate Leadership Council. This approach received commentary in the Washington Post and by Charles Komanoff from the Carbon Tax Center. This presents an opportunity to think about what’s important in a policy. With an initiative process, like I-732, we avoided many of the political tradeoffs. All of these articles highlight the difficulties that a carbon tax will face through the legislative process.
“Our long-term game plan is to build a grassroots climate organization where citizens are in charge and where moderates and conservatives can come to the table with liberals as partners. We believe if you get citizens and leaders from all political backgrounds working together, we’ll get good outcomes and that a low carbon future can actually be a really prosperous one, too.”
That’s just part of what Carbon Washington Executive Director Kyle Murphy told Washington State Wire’s Keith Schipper. In a wide-ranging interview, Murphy also discusses the lack of progressive support for Initiative 732, the prospects for the carbon-tax bills now before the legislature, and why a carbon tax (that doesn’t hurt low-income families) is such a good idea. (more…)
“Climate change is real and happening before our eyes,” write Philip Jones and Howard Behar in the Seattle Times. “We are already being forced to adapt to the tangible consequences of a warming climate. These actions are caused by more extreme variability in weather resulting in flooding, coastal erosion, dramatically reduced glaciation in the Olympic and Glacier National Parks, as well as observed acidification in our shorelines and the Puget Sound estuary.
“As a moderate Republican and an independent, we don’t always see eye to eye on how to solve some of society’s biggest challenges. But on climate change we agree: Taxing the sources of carbon pollution is a pragmatic, bipartisan, common-sense solution.”
Philip Jones was a Utilities and Transportation commissioner from 2005-2017, and served as past president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. Howard Behar is former president of Starbucks Coffee Company and author of “It’s Not About The Coffee” and “The Magic Cup.”
Simple Explanation: SB 5930, introduced by Senator Guy Palumbo, would implement a carbon tax of $15 per ton, rising $2.50 per year to an eventual rate of $30 per ton. Imported electricity, agricultural fuel, and EITE’s (energy-intensive, trade-exposed manufacturers) are exempt. There is a phase-in for residential natural gas and the electric sector. Electric utilities can redirect up to 75% of the carbon tax they owe to fund carbon reduction projects. The measure will devote $400 million to fund existing programs that are currently paid for out of the general fund, which would free up budget room for K-12 education. The remaining revenue is divided up between forest, water, low income, and carbon reduction programs. The measure also rescinds regulations on greenhouse gas emissions, such as the Clean Air Rule, in exchange for enacting the carbon tax. (more…)
Demonstrating Support for Legislative Action – Lobby Day April 20, 2017
ACT NOW will host a carbon tax lobby day in Olympia on April 20th to urge lawmakers to recognize urgency of climate change and the growing bipartisan desire for climate action. “There are three carbon pricing bills in front of the legislature that have the potential to resolve key funding challenges — while putting the state on a path toward cleaner energy and a better future for our children and grandchildren,” says Carbon Washington’s Kyle Murphy. “To let another legislative session go by without addressing the threat of climate change would be a lost opportunity.”
Please join us in Olympia to lend your voice to this important effort. Click here to learn more and register for the event.
Kyle Murphy, Carbon Washington’s executive director, and Dave Kozin, CFO of A&R Solar, have teamed up on an op-ed piece for Seattle Business.
In their essay, Kyle and Dave say “There’s a growing bipartisan consensus that a carbon tax just makes sense. A group of national Republican leaders with the Climate Leadership Council, including James Baker and Hank Paulson, recently released a climate plan advocating for a carbon tax. Initiative 732, a carbon tax plan that went to Washington voters on last years ballot, was endorsed many leaders from both political parties. Recently, the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy, a broad coalition of Washington State social justice, environmental, and labor organizations, put forward a climate plan that includes a carbon tax. The legislature should borrow the best ideas from all of these policies.”
Please join us on Thursday, April 20, for a carbon tax lobby day in Olympia (in honor of the upcoming Earth Day). This is organized in conjunction with ACT NOW (Advocates for a Carbon Tax NOW). ACT NOW is a growing coalition of volunteers and organizations that want to see a carbon tax pass this legislative session. If you are a part of an organization that would like to join the ACT NOW coalition, email Kyle@carbonwa.org and let’s chat! More than 12 organizations have signed on already (read the statement and signers here).
The latest research from Yale’s Climate Change Communication Center tells us that most Americans believe that climate change is happening, but fewer think that it will harm them personally. Remember the old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words”? We think some well-chosen images will help hammer the message home, so we’re holding a photo contest. (more…)