Washington Voters to Decide on Carbon Tax in November

Initiative 1631 takes up where Gov. Jay Inslee's carbon tax legislation ended in March after failing to attract enough supporters. The new initiative differs from I- 732 which was rejected by 59 percent of voters two years ago.

3 minute read

August 20, 2018, 7:00 AM PDT

By Irvin Dawid


Joyce Marrero / Shutterstock

[Updated October 30, 2018] "The initiative by the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy was certified for the November ballot after organizers collected approximately 375,000 signatures," according to KING 5 News.

If approved by voters in the fall, a fee of $15 per ton of carbon emissions would be levied starting in 2020. The fee would increase by $2 per ton of emissions – and the rate of inflation – every year. The initial fee would raise the cost of gas by approximately 14 cents per gallon.

Seventy-percent of the revenue raised through the carbon fee would be invested in clean energy. The rest would be spent on preserving clean water, forests, and communities impacted by carbon pollution.

Due to the fact that revenues would be used to reduce carbon emissions, technically Initiative Measure No. 1632 [pdf] imposes a carbon fee, not a tax, as posted in March (after Senate Democrats withdrew carbon tax legislation), unlike Initiative 732, which would have imposed a revenue-neutral carbon tax that would have reduced two state taxes and added a tax credit, according to Planetizen blogger, Pete Sullivan, in "Washington State's Big Climate Policy Experiment," (Nov. 5, 2016).

“I’m going to do everything I can for it,” said Governor Jay Inslee, a Democrat and a longtime champion of climate policy, in an interview, reports The Atlantic's Robinson Meyer. “I’m hoping others will join me, because it really is a very well-balanced, thoughtful policy.”

More on the group behind the initiative from Planetizen: "Ballot Initiative Launched After Gov. Jay Inslee Withdraws Carbon Tax Bill," March 6, 2018:

Jeff Johnson, President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, added, "It’s the broadest and deepest coalition that I’ve ever been involved in Washington State in the 32 years I’ve been here. It is made up of organizations of color, faith-based groups, environmental groups, tribes, labor, public health, women’s groups – it’s really, really exciting.”

A long list of supporters can be found on the sponsor's website.

Judge advises youths to pass a carbon tax

On a somewhat related note, two days before the initiative was qualified for the November ballot, King County Superior Court Judge Michael Scott, upon dismissing a climate change lawsuit brought by Our Children's Trust on behalf of 13 young Washington residents against the State of Washington for not doing enough to reduce carbon emissions, wrote "that the young advocates can (and must) continue to help solve the problems related to climate change," reports Georgina Gustin for InsideClimate News.

For example, he wrote in his order, they could urge state lawmakers to enact policies such as a carbon tax and measures that support development of clean energy.

The lawmakers failed in March and the judge dismissed the suit on Tuesday. Now Washington's voters will decide on Nov. 6.

Hat tip to Streetsblog California.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018 in The Atlantic

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