And the messaging of the “No” on 1631 campaign fed on the rich vein of discontent around accountability for the funds the tax would raise, as well as the worry that voters, rather than large-scale polluters, would end up paying for the cost of climate change. In the past decade, the Northwest has seen a slew of wins in fights against carbon-emitting infrastructure—and a slew of losses on climate policy. Upstairs, in a dimly lit ballroom, community organizers and other supporters of the ballot measure had already gathered. Had every project been built, “it would certainly make us one of the top fossil fuel transport hubs anywhere in the world,” said Eric de Place, a programs director at the Sightline Institute, a nonprofit think tank focused on regional sustainability. “We’re animals, and we live in a physical world. After Carbon Tax Fails in Washington, Focus Turns to 9 Other States Washington state won’t be enacting the nation’s first tax on greenhouse gas emissions this year. Supporting Washington's clean energy economy and transitioning to a clean, affordable, and reliable energy future. Putting a policy to that will be as daunting as it is urgent. Golden’s mind was on what would come next, including setting aside the fight for a carbon tax, for now. “All human practices and disputes can now be expressed through the language of climate change, which has become a new medium through which human life is lived.”. Inslee tried several times, and voters rejected two ballot measures, before Washington took a year off from carbon pricing battles in 2019. “(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. In practice, however, many key emitters are relatively unaffected by a carbon tax. Economists generally support a carbon tax over regulations or building standards, because it costs all emitters fairly, in proportion to their emissions. Given these reminders, now would have seemed a prime time for Initiative 1631. Daisy-chains of young supporters, linked arm-in-arm, wound through the crowd, their shirts proclaiming “Yes on 1631.” “This energy!” a man standing nearby exclaimed, surveying the clusters of people shouting enthusiastically about the results. 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. Supporters of a Washington state ballot initiative that would charge a fee on carbon emissions from fossil fuels rally in October. People pulled out their phones to refresh elections pages. “This is the greatest endeavor of our time,” he told a crowd of reporters at a workspace for energy efficiency innovators in Seattle. Available Documents. Golden thinks the first step is to regain a sense that our collective actions can actually affect the course of climate change. 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. Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights. In Washington, fossil fuel companies and lobbyists spent more than $30 million to defeat Initiative 1631, versus $17 million from supporters. And in the state of Washington, the carbon tax initiatives have suffered two successive defeats in 2016 and 2018. 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. 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. “Nives and I have not given up on conversation,” Prakash said. In short, the difficulty of addressing climate stems from its very power: Its effects are inextricable from the way we have configured our society. Then the speeches ended, and people began to leave, making their way to the city’s gloomier bars or pedaling home in the dark. Then a strange hush swept the room, rippling outward from the televisions. It appears here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration. 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. The fight for the carbon tax, then, becomes a fight for what the future of our society ought to look like—and on that, we remain deeply conflicted. The climate is too big for us to easily wrap our minds around, and so it proves to be a difficult issue to legislate. Under bills introduced in the House and Senate Tuesday, a proposed tax of $20 per metric ton of carbon emissions would start on July 1, 2019 and increase annually by … 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. Bonds add an additional $3.5 billion, bringing the total to just under $17.1 billion. After all, in the months leading up to the vote, climate change made its mark on much of Washington life. In the wake of the election, the couple published half a dozen pieces analyzing the failure that drew on their own discussions. 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. Funds would go toward projects including highway maintenance, the state ferry system and federally-mandated culvert replacement projects. And although the cost of new standards varies between industries, within them, the costs are the same. Senate leader proposes carbon tax with 15 cent per gallon hike to gasoline Fri., Feb. 22, 2019 A carbon tax proposal in front of the Washington Legislature includes an … That, Prakash said, “was myopic.” (Mo McBroom, director of government relations for The Nature Conservancy’s Washington chapter, noted that 1631 differed from 732, as it “would have provided investments to make our state more resilient to climate change, including reducing risk of forest fire and addressing drought” and drew support from businesses, prominent philanthropists like Bill Gates, and health professionals.). The initiative promised to pool funds for projects, including new bus lines, land conservation grants, and training to transition fossil fuel workers into other jobs. They focus on consolidating a liberal base, he said, to their detriment. The rural communities of Hoquiam and Aberdeen unanimously banned new crude oil storage facilities in their towns. “An extreme weather event doesn’t affect political leanings.” Ongoing, intensifying hurricanes in Florida, for example, have not necessarily driven people to vote for liberal candidates who back climate action, and extreme weather has a relatively small impact on public opinion. “2019 is a year we can make a lot of progress on this,” Nick Abraham, a spokesman for the Yes on 1631 campaign, told me. No capital gains tax currently exists in Washington at the state or local level. By Request: Office of Financial Management . I made my way through the streets, my thoughts scattered, and before I could really think through all I’d just learned, a gust of wind caught me by surprise and nearly slammed me into a building. In the weeks after, as they ate dinner or got ready for work, they’d dissect the results: Is Washington turning conservative? ... (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post) ... Jan. 24, 2019 at 12:33 a.m. UTC. Oregon governor Kate Brown led … Washington Gov. Supporters of a Washington state ballot initiative that would charge a fee on carbon emissions from fossil fuels rally in October. Can you pitch in a few bucks to help fund Mother Jones' investigative journalism? That physicality did connect up the dots for people.”. Unsurprisingly, the carbon tax found wide support among the state’s tribal nations, some of whom face the obvious possibility of displacement due to rising seas, and in Seattle’s communities of color, where air pollution already causes higher-than-average rates of asthma. Washington state lawmakers proposed a measure on Thursday to limit carbon pollution that would be the nation's first if passed. 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. A second wave of results had come in, and the tide had turned. Although he believes people will embrace climate action eventually, in the short term, he conceded, “I think things are going to get worse before they get better.”, Prakash blamed environmentalists and their approach. Seattle made a commitment in 2002 to eliminate the city’s carbon emissions from electricity, one of the first American cities to do so, and voters passed renewable energy standards in 2006. “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. She used that argument to talk to her dad about climate change, invoking his sense of familial values and his worry for his kids and grandkids. As the room emptied, I stood there refreshing my own phone, wondering what had just happened, and what it might mean. 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. “It had no business not passing.”. In August, a mother orca lost her calf, then carried its body on her nose for 17 days, a painful reminder of species loss and habitat degradation. Without a course correction, climate activists may well find themselves right back where they started, raising the body count on failed climate initiatives while blithely marching forward. ” ‘I’ll take a look.’ ” But in the end, she’s not sure he even voted. “It is a moment of great peril but it is also a moment of great promise.” He unveiled a plan he hopes to put before the state Legislature this year, one that encompasses clean fuel standards, tighter building codes and a shift to 100 percent clean energy. 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