By signing up, you agree to our privacy policy and terms of use, and to receive messages from Mother Jones and our partners. “So much of the region had already invested in its identity as being on the forefront of clean energy,” Golden said. All Rights Reserved. Given these reminders, now would have seemed a prime time for Initiative 1631. The state put a limit on emissions in 2008. U.S. impacts of climate change are intensifying, federal report says, Carbon dioxide in our atmosphere may soar to levels not seen in 56 million years, Your California Privacy Rights/Privacy Policy. What you should know about WA Gov. “If you take a mile-long coal train going through Seattle, it just doesn’t look good,” said de Place. We finished our drinks and parted ways. A few speakers got up to laud the hard work of campaign staff, and the room, which hadn’t quite lost its party feel, echoed with the murmur of people dissecting a loss that hadn’t sunk in. Many groups, including the Sierra Club and The Nature Conservancy, did not back an earlier carbon tax that was designed to appeal to more conservative voters. Close. And there, at least, they seem to have taken the hint: That package sidesteps a carbon tax entirely. In the three northeast counties, the percentage of people voting no were: Ferry County = 74.5 percent; Stevens County = 79 percent; Pend Oreille County = 77.24 percent. This election cycle, Jordan Stevenson was a fellow at the advocacy group Our Climate, which supported Washington’s carbon tax. Copyright © 2021 Mother Jones and the Foundation for National Progress. Throughout the Intermountain West, the oil and gas industry provides a lot of jobs and wields a lot of influence, and a significant number of voters support mining and fossil fuel extraction. ... as diesel inches closer to 2019 levels. There was no carbon tax or fee included in the governor's slate of proposed legislation that his office said would reduce carbon emissions to 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2035. This was the state’s second attempt to tax carbon emissions, and in the months leading up to the vote, an unusually wide swath of Washington society had turned out in support. KC Golden is a longtime climate campaigner and, until recently, a senior policy advisor at Climate Solutions, which helped craft Initiative 1631. Similar state proposals have failed. New data on greenhouse gas emissions in Washington shows signs of progress in the state’s efforts to cut the carbon pollution that is driving climate change. The line for the bar stretched the length of the room, and a bank of television screens on the far wall drew barely a glance as the evening progressed. Then the speeches ended, and people began to leave, making their way to the city’s gloomier bars or pedaling home in the dark. In 2017, the state received just over 20 percent of its energy from coal or natural gas, and its only coal power plant is on track to close. “(Fossil fuel companies) have spent centuries creating a system of dependency,” Aiko Schaefer, one of the architects of 1631 and the director of Front and Centered, a climate advocacy coalition for people of color, said. A carbon tax failed on the ballot in 2016. Carbon Tax G. Metcalf Feb. 24, 2019 3 emissions, 36% are from transportation, 16% industrial, 11% residential and commercial, and 36% from Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation. In Canada, for example, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faced blowback for his carbon tax proposal. “If you had to choose between performance standards and a carbon tax, you’d be insane to pick a carbon tax,” said Harvey. Now almost 60, Golden claimed his first climate victory in the 1980s, when his group Northwest Energy Coalition was part of regional energy efficiency efforts. For Dolšak, the less optimistic of the two, the tax’s failure reinforced her sense that sweeping climate action is far from imminent. In Washington, hydroelectric dams, not fossil fuels, have long provided the state’s energy. ” ‘I’ll take a look.’ ” But in the end, she’s not sure he even voted. The solution, then, would seem to be to convince people they’ll be just as well off before a carbon tax as after—and to match fossil fuel interests’ spending dollar for dollar. Why were these so successful, compared to the carbon tax? ... according to state data. Jay Inslee on Thursday unveiled a 2021-23 operating budget proposal that includes $57.6 billion in spending for state operations such as schools, prisons, and social services. An engineer at Volvo isn’t likely to compare her efficiency costs to those of double-paned windows in a new high-rise. The carbon fee would add 15 cents per gallon, an increase of 21 cents per gallon. He was in a reflective mood: Climate Solutions was in the midst of moving offices, and they’d unearthed years of news clippings on the long fight for climate action in the state, records of campaigns and failures going back more than a decade. The simplest explanation is that people just don’t like taxes, and oil and gas outspent green groups to exploit that dislike. After all, in the months leading up to the vote, climate change made its mark on much of Washington life. In Seattle, people halted their daily runs and commuters wore masks to work, as an orange murk hid the hills of the suburbs and clung to the Space Needle. The plan would tax carbon emissions generated by transportation fuels and power plants at $20 per metric ton starting in July of 2019. In the end, the measure passed in just three places: Seattle’s King County, Port Townsend’s Jefferson County and the county that encompasses the San Juan Islands. Then a strange hush swept the room, rippling outward from the televisions. Initiative 1631 proposed to do this by putting a fee ($15 per metric ton) on carbon emissions from the largest polluters, then slowly increasing that fee, with the revenue going toward programs that reduce greenhouse gases and pollution and their effects. Over the summer, a ragged line of wildfires scorched the Northwest, curling from British Columbia through eastern Washington and down to Oregon. The Keep It In The Ground movement, which opposes any new fossil fuel production, firmly established itself with direct action in “Blockadia,” as activists strapped themselves to a drill rig headed to the Arctic, blocked trains and demonstrated in the streets of Seattle and Portland. I checked the televisions: A few counties were leaning toward approving the measure. The room began to perk up. By Request: Office of Financial Management . President Barack Obama’s White House seemed committed, along with much of the world, to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases through regulations and other incentives, with states like Washington, Oregon and California poised to help lead the way. In the wake of the election, the couple published half a dozen pieces analyzing the failure that drew on their own discussions. Outside, the winter weather was particularly nasty, with rain that flew sideways and high winds shoving people around the sidewalks. In short, the difficulty of addressing climate stems from its very power: Its effects are inextricable from the way we have configured our society. “The first lesson is: Don’t lead with your chin.” Harvey, an energy wonk with a cheery, blunt manner, said the state’s climate coalition should have pushed for more immediately achievable ends first, such as fuel efficiency standards modeled on California’s, or tighter building regulations. “It still didn’t seem concrete or tangible to people,” Stevenson said. That physicality did connect up the dots for people.”. Climate change turning into ‘medical emergency,’ experts say. What Went Wrong? This story was originally published by High Country News. Still, it wasn’t advertising campaigns or partisanship alone that killed the tax: it got mired in the same murk that has slowed climate action for decades. In addition to concerns about air pollution and the safety of coal trains and gas pipelines, the proposals threatened the region’s sense that it was a leader on climate change. Instead, the question is over the cost required to take action: “How much is society willing to pay to reduce this problem versus another, equally important problem?”. But Initiative 1631 failed, and Washington must now confront a darker version of itself, in the kind of identity crisis that comes only in defeat. She came to believe it was a failure of Washington’s green self-mythology: “In Washington, we’re excited to support environmental action, as long as we don’t have to pay for it,” she said. Terminals, refineries and railways exist in the material realm, de Place said. Just a few weeks after the election, the National Climate Assessment confirmed that all that was likely just an ominous portent of things to come: Climate change threatens the region’s infrastructure with landslides, rising seas and aberrant weather, while its most vulnerable communities face deteriorating air and water quality. Is any carbon tax doomed to fail? For about $ 7.9 billion over the summer, a process she thinks will take longer than an cycle... Widespread support in Washington state ballot initiative that would charge a fee on carbon emissions generated transportation. Was originally published by High Country News through Seattle, it is urgent 2 every year 2021... The Foundation washington state carbon tax 2019 national Progress on what would come next, including setting aside the fight for a tax! Tax carbon emissions generated by transportation fuels and power plants at $ 20 per metric ton starting July... 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