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Washington Could Enact a Carbon Tax

by Countable | Updated on 11.4.18

What the Initiative Does

Washington Initiative 1631 would enact a carbon emissions fee of $15 per metric ton of carbon beginning on January 1, 2020, and increase that fee by $2 annually until Washington’s greenhouse gas reduction goals are met. It’d direct the revenue from this fee to three environment-related funds:

  • A fund for air quality and energy programs and projects;
  • A fund for water quality and forest health projects, and
  • A fund for investments related to communities.

Under Washington law, this measure qualifies as a fee, rather than a tax, because its revenue can’t be spent on government expenses or public programs — rather, it’s dedicated to specific accounts related to investing in climate and environmental projects.

If it passes, this initiative would make Washington the first U.S. state to enact a fee or tax on carbon.

In Favor

Preserving Washington’s environment for future generations requires establishing a fee on the largest corporate polluters to ensure that everyone’s doing their fair share to protect the state. Initiative 1631’s revenue would enable tremendous, valuable investment in green initiatives.

Opposed

Washington businesses are already among the greenest in the world, and they don’t need the impetus of a carbon tax to continue greening themselves. The proposed carbon tax would harm small businesses, families, and Washington overall by forcing energy prices up for everyone.

In-Depth

Yes on 1631 is leading the campaign in support of Initiative 1631 with the support of Gov. Jay Inslee (D), the League of Women Voters, The Climate Reality Project, and others. Yes on 1631 says that this measure will:

“Protect our communities’ health and leave a better future for our kids; invest in clean energy, like wind and solar, as well as healthy forests, and clean air and water; create thousands of local jobs in our communities across the state while cutting pollution; and establish a fee on the largest corporate polluters, to make sure we are all doing our fair share to protect our state.”

Gov. Inslee adds that Initiative 1631 is important for Washington’s children:

“The health of our children is at risk. What these children represent is an effort in the state of Washington to give them what they deserve, which is clean air. They deserve better than a smoky future. They deserve lungs that breathe clean Washington air, not smoke from hundreds of forest fires. Today, this smoke be opaque. But when it comes to children’s health, it has made something very clear, and that is the state of Washington needs to pass this clean air initiative, so these children can breathe clean air. They deserve that. The significance of this is profound."

Initiative 1631’s supporters add that it’d allow Washington to reduce CO2 emissions 25% by 2035 (the state’s official target).

Vote No on 1631 is leading the campaign in opposition to Initiative 1631 with the support of the Western State Petroleum Association and Association of Washington Business (AWB). Vote No on 1631 calls this measure an “unfair energy tax”:

“The risks posed by climate change are real, but I-1631’s new, unfair energy tax is a deeply flawed approach to climate policy for our state. It would force Washington families, farmers, small businesses and consumers to pay billions in higher energy costs – while exempting many of our state’s largest polluters, and providing no specific plan or accountability for spending billions in taxpayer dollars.”

AWB President Kris Johnson adds that Initiative 1631 isn’t the right way to reduce emissions, and it’ll reduce energy costs to an extent that’ll harm employers and small businesses:

“After careful consideration, our members concluded I-1631 is not the right way to reduce emissions. We share the goal of protecting the environment, but this initiative will raise the cost of energy for families and employers while offering little assurance it will result in a meaningful reduction of carbon emissions. Washington businesses are already among the greenest in the world and they continue to look for new ways to reduce their carbon footprint. This initiative will do little to reduce global carbon emissions while placing Washington employers, especially small businesses, at a competitive disadvantage with other states and regions that won’t have to pay the higher energy costs. There’s also concern that this establishes an unelected body of decision-makers. We believe there are better ways to reduce carbon emissions while also protecting jobs and family budgets."

Initiative 1631’s fee would provide Washington with around $1 billion in annual revenue. Washington would use 70% of these funds for clean air and energy investments, with 15% of that going specifically to easing carbon taxation’s burden on low-income energy customers and $12 million going to a fund to help ease fossil fuel workers out of the industry; 25% for water and forests, increasing Washington’s natural ecosystem’s resilience to climate change; and 5% for healthy communities, assisting communities, particularly rural ones, impacted by climate change.


Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Schroptschop)

Countable

Written by Countable

Leave a comment
(93)
  • burrkitty
    Voted Support
    11/03/2018
    ···

    I already voted for this thanks to Washington State’s awesome voting system. Paper ballots, AVR, and vote by mail! What Countable didn’t mention here is that the Opposition campaign is 99% funded by 5 OUT OF STATE OIL COMPANIES. Imagine that.

    Like (43)
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  • operaman
    11/03/2018
    ···

    Oh yes, let's have a Carbon Tax. But let's include everyone in the tax. I suggest a tax in every exhale. One cent (1) per exhale. Just think of all that tax money. And if someone doesn't pay, remove their intake oxygen. No, that oxygen in carbon dioxide will not count. A few missed breaths should bring the non-paying around to proper thinking. There must be trillion$ in China and India alone. However, in fairness, those not wishing to support we paying breathers will have to stop breathing. It's also time to consider animals. We should think about pets first, then land animals second and the birds.

    Like (13)
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  • JTJ
    Voted Oppose
    11/03/2018
    ···

    Another excuse to tax citizens, under the false guise of climate concern.

    Like (12)
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  • Dawson
    Voted Support
    11/03/2018
    ···

    Award winning Economists, international climate change scientists, and environmental sustainability advocates alike agree that this is the first step in fixing the problem our parents and grandparents started. Make Earth safe for our kids and grandkids

    Like (18)
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  • TexasTRex
    Voted Oppose
    11/03/2018
    ···

    More taxes. No real science behind the myth of climate change. Just another push for socialism and control.

    Like (9)
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  • ConservativeGuy
    11/03/2018
    ···

    Go ahead. The microbrews will move elsewhere.

    Like (4)
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  • BananaNeil
    Voted Support
    11/03/2018
    ···

    Based on our current society, I believe this is the only way to save our planet. We need clean energy yesterday, and a carbon tax puts financial pressure on the consumers and the businesses to support clean energy. Better yet, use this tax to subsidize clean energy. The money needs to flow in the right direction.

    Like (15)
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  • Mart
    Voted Support
    11/03/2018
    ···

    If big businesses are going to pollute our world, then they should pay heavily for destroying this great world of ours. It’s up to us to protect what God has provided for us!!

    Like (9)
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  • Delmar
    Voted Support
    11/03/2018
    ···

    It’s time to tax corporations that produce carbon emissions and stop giving them more taxpayer subsidies

    Like (8)
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  • Marilyn
    Voted Support
    11/03/2018
    ···

    The $12M targeted to help “ease oilfield workers out of the Industry” might be spent combating the effects of their participation ie: drug and alcohol treatment in the communities surrounding the man camps.....missing and murdered Indigenous women attributed to this group.

    Like (6)
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  • Caroline
    Voted Support
    11/03/2018
    ···

    Yes, I voted for it. If the other Washington will not do anything about climate change, then the states will because it’s for real and the time is coming sooner than later when it will be too late to make the changes. Fossil fuels are not the only ones that caused the problems, but they heavily contributed to it, so if they will not pay for the clean up of the mess they caused, they needed to be charged for those who do it. Also, it should help them to change their ways to renewable energy alternatives as a cheaper way to deliver their energy.

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  • SneakyPete
    Voted Oppose
    11/03/2018
    ···

    “ANOTHER TAX ON WASHINGTON STATE TAXPAYERS” Washington Initiative 1631would enact a carbon emissions fee of $15 per metric ton of carbon beginning on January 1, 2020, and increase that (Fee 😹) by $2 annually until Washington’s greenhouse gas reduction goals are met. It’d direct the revenue from this fee to three environment-related funds: *. A fund for air quality and energy programs and projects; *. A fund for water quality and forest health projects, and *. A fund for investments related to communities. Under Washington law, this measure qualifies as a (FEE😹) rather than a tax, because its revenue can’t be spent on government expenses or public programs — rather, it’s dedicated to specific accounts related to investing in climate and environmental projects. As we often seen in the past, once these (FEES😹) are collected, who knows on how they will spend them. 11*3*18 ..... 🗳. SneakyPete.....

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  • Ray
    Voted Support
    11/03/2018
    ···

    Climate change is real and will devastate our world as we know it unless we actively fight to stop it or slow down the rate. Our leaders and moron president must look ahead and see what’s in our country’s environmental future and act accordingly.

    Like (5)
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  • Terry
    Voted Oppose
    11/03/2018
    ···

    Come on people it’s Govt. regulations and a tax. More cost to us both ways.

    Like (4)
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  • Vanessa
    Voted Oppose
    11/03/2018
    ···

    STOP with foolish carbon tax and climate change nonsense. You just know every penny of this carbon tax is going to go into “brokers’”, like Al Gore’s & Barack Obama’s pockets, and enrich them, instead of making a darned bit of difference on climate change. The climate changes because the climate changes. Vikings were farming Greenland in 1000AD. You’d be hard pressed to Farm that land today; but maybe with a little more global warming, we can. Encourage countries like China and India to control pollution. Sanction them, even. But I’m happy with the state of our waterways (as long as the EPA stays out of them & doesn’t cause pollution, like it did in Colorado during the Obama years), our air, and our wildernesses. Educate people on not polluting, like picking up after themselves and their dogs; but don’t tax us. It’s just going to make the climate change gurus rich, and the rest of US poor. NO CARBON TAX!

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  • Lynn
    Voted Oppose
    11/03/2018
    ···

    Nope. Another fee grab based on bogus science.

    Like (3)
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  • Thomas
    Voted Oppose
    11/03/2018
    ···

    Regulating CO2 is essentially regulating breathing. Get a grip. Our economy doesn't need more of a government drag. End the bueracy.

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  • KansasTamale
    Voted Support
    11/04/2018
    ···

    1. Our planet is dying because of these types of emissions and many other causes - like plastics- oh wait. That’s oil emissions too 2 this tax is a necessity to make Oil companies do what the SHOULD DO on their OWN. 3 Other companies which expel any emissions into the air, water or land should also face these types of taxes. 4 Congress needs to get off it’s duff and pass legislation to make Trump’s E O, to allow all companies to pollute all they want, null and void. These problems were steadily going down in the last administration- TRUMP IS THE CAUSE IF THIS and Congress is Complicit.

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  • John
    Voted Oppose
    11/03/2018
    ···

    It's just another money grab.

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  • Adam
    11/03/2018
    ···

    Climate change can not be ignored.

    Like (3)
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