Hello, CarbonWA friends: The movement for a price on carbon in Washington State has put a few points on the board! Read on to learn more, and, don’t forget that I-1631 is gathering signatures right now — so if you want to get involved, go directly to the campaign website and review our analysis to learn more about the policy.
New UTC Rules Require Utilities to Include Price on Carbon
In Washington State, our private utilities (Puget Sound Energy, Avista, and PacificCorp) are regulated by a body called the Utilities and Transportation Commission or UTC. Two former UTC commissioners actually sit on the CarbonWA board. The UTC’s job is to ensure private utilities follow the law and don’t take advantage of consumers, among other things. Utilities must have their rate increases and many other financial decisions impacting consumers approved by the UTC. And utilities are required to undertake a long term planning process that is overseen by the UTC (known as the Integrated Resource Plans or IRPs). The UTC has just determined that future IRP’s MUST include a price on carbon (of $40 per ton) as part of their economic analysis. This decision isn’t legally prohibiting the utilities from building fossil fuel plants in the future. But, the UTC is clearly telling utilities: if you build a fossil fuel plant that isn’t profitable with a price on carbon, we won’t consider that a prudent investment for which consumers should be on the hook.
Hello, CarbonWA friends: May the 4th be with you! We hope you channel the energy from Star Wars (or your favorite movie) to help make climate action happen!
Making change beyond Earth Day
Another Earth Day has come and gone with many familiar pledges and suggestions circulating to hike more, get a reusable shopping bag, or start recycling. That’s all well and good, but, with climate change growing ever more urgent, we wanted to share some ideas for how you might seriously step up your climate-action game. We often think about climate and environmental actions as fitting into two categories: “me” actions and “we” actions. A “me” action is personal action you can take (like giving up beef or changing how you commute), without the help of others, that can help to reduce your personal impact. “Me” actions are important because they help you to live your values, and because they can encourage others in your personal network to follow suit. But no amount of bicycling and light bulb changing will stop global warming if we don’t also take “we” actions. “We” actions are political actions you can take, with the help of others, to get our entire economy shifted to be more sustainable and earth-friendly. A strong climate pledge would be to take one bold “me” action and one bold “we” action this year. (more…)
Hello, CarbonWA friends:
We Support I-1631!
After another round of legislative inaction, a ballot initiative is moving forward to put a price on carbon. We’ve taken a close look at the policy, collected feedback from our supporters, and held a robust internal discussion about the initiative. As a result, we are moving forward in support of I-1631. You can see our full statement below. But, before you make up your own mind, we’d encourage you to review our recent in-depth analysis of the initiative (including a comparison matrix, exploration of wonky details, and a carbon reduction ranking).
While the 1631 policy differs in some ways from the approaches we’ve seen in recent years, we also see it as an outgrowth of the grassroots energy that put the first carbon tax in the nation on the ballot and has since led to a surge of serious legislative proposals. I-1631 also has the extra boost of a very favorable ballot title ruling from the Attorney General’s office (something the I-732 effort struggled with), and a recent upholding of the title against legal challenges from the Association of Washington Business and a conservative activist (who we don’t know much about except that his website logo is of sasquatch toppling the Olympia capitol). Read on for the reasoning behind our support of I-1631. (more…)
Hello, CarbonWA friends: There’s a new initiative in town — which we’ve broken down for you — and two fantastic climate conferences are coming up in April! Don’t fret if this is our last newsletter for a few weeks. Some of our key leaders are heading out on vacation and the next big climate move will be seeing if I-1631 goes forward to the ballot.
Carbon pricing policy analysis (including I-1631!)
While the carbon tax bill that we supported in the legislature, SB 6203, passed out of two committees in the Senate, stalled, and ultimately failed to pass this year, the carbon pricing debate has never been more alive. Initiative 1631, which would create a carbon fee, has been filed, and the core sponsors (including The Nature Conservancy, Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy, and some of Washington’s tribal nations) are preparing to move forward. If you want to get involved with the initiative, check out this page. We’ve put together an in-depth analysis of the initiative and how it compares to the major previous proposals we’ve seen, including SB 6203 and I-732. Our analysis blog includes a comparison matrix, exploration of wonky details, a carbon reduction ranking — and we even included pictures and graphs! So please check out our blog. You can also download PDFs of the blog post, the policy matrix, and the price trajectory chart.
We are pleased that the sponsors of I-1631 have put a plan on the table, but we will wait to see it move forward with signature gathering before commenting further. The measure has until early July to get the signatures to qualify. Take a look at the analysis and then let us know what you think about the initiative. Email Kyle@carbonwa.org to send us your input! (more…)
Hello, CarbonWA friends: Thanks for tuning in for another chapter in the carbon tax saga!
Carbon Tax Passes Ways and Means Committee (!)
The carbon tax bill that we’ve been supporting, SB 6203, passed out of the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Thursday evening. While this vote contained fewer fireworks than the Environment Committee session, it was no less important. You can watch the executive session here.
This vote comes on the heels of our virtual lobby day which we are confident had a positive impact. A huge thank you to the 25 volunteer phonebankers who helped us generate over 1,000 recruitment calls, resulting in many hundreds of constituent calls to legislators urging them to take action on climate and put a price on carbon!
The next step for the carbon tax is the Rules Committee, which can also accept amendments and send the bill to the Senate floor. If the bill passes out of the Senate, it has to repeat the process in the House unless it gets wrapped up in the budget process which plays by expedited rules. At this point, we can’t say what the ultimate fate of the bill will be. (more…)
Hello, CarbonWA friends: WE NEED YOU TO CALL YOUR LEGISLATORS NOW!
Since the beginning of the 2018 legislative session multiple climate bills, including a carbon tax, have been introduced, a carbon tax passed out of the Senate Environment Committee, the Seattle Times endorsed a carbon tax moving forward, the papers have been flooded by letters to the editor about climate, John Kerry stopped by to help out, and we cosponsored a climate lobby day with over 200 attendees. We are making progress.
But, we cannot let up. It is over halfway through the legislative session and right now the Senate Ways and Means Committee is considering a price on carbon in the form of SB 6203. But, they haven’t scheduled a vote and it’s not clear if they are going to take action. Our best guess is that they are counting votes in the Senate before moving it further along so we need to call every legislator to rally support for the bill. We need your help.
Today we are going to ring the phones off the hook in Olympia to make sure our lawmakers know they need to act on climate to maintain the support of their constituents! (If you are reading this after Monday . . . please still call!) (more…)
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.
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.” (more…)
Hello, CarbonWA friends: Read on to learn about a little-known bipartisan climate approach, upcoming events, and our response to a Dud of a Seattle Times article! But first, a huge thanks to the roughly 200 people who attended the climate lobby day last week, the dozens more who called their legislators to support it remotely, and special thanks to Audubon Washington, Climate Solutions, and many other groups who helped to put on the event.
While most of our energy has been focused on carbon pricing, we’ve also been spearheading an effort to raise awareness around biochar and carbon sequestration. Board Member Greg Rock, who is leading our biochar effort, worked with Legislators Shea (R) and Fitzgibbon (D) to introduce HJ 4014, a joint memorial in support of 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. Check out our recent blog to learn more about biochar’s role in the fight against climate change and the bipartisan interest in biochar. You can also watch the recent work-session (video here and slides here) to learn more!
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…)