Campaign News

Hello carbon tax friends: I want to answer a question that I’ve heard many times of late, especially since Governor Inslee has become increasingly outspoken about his preference for cap-and-trade. That question is about the potential conflict between cap-and-trade—or other carbon pricing efforts—and our effort.

And the answer is very simple: CarbonWA is a fairly small grassroots-y group, so if another effort comes along that has a lot more power or money consolidated behind it then we will step aside or (hopefully!) join that other effort. That’s just the political reality, period, so if fear of conflict with Inslee or others has made you hesitant about supporting CarbonWA then I hope you hesitate no more! (As you know, we’re working towards a November 2016 ballot via an Initiative to the Legislature that would involve collecting signatures from March through December of 2015. You can help by pledging to collect signatures, donating to the campaign, or adding events—with web links and other where-and-when info—to the comment section on the blog post located here).

Furthermore, it’s worth emphasizing that the most important choice before us is not This or That (e.g., carbon tax or cap-and-trade) but Something or Nothing. And right now the only Somethings on the table are our proposal and perhaps the carbon-tax-for-education measure (HB 2803) introduced in the state House last month. That will change if and when Inslee or others put solid proposals on the table, but so far the reality is that they haven’t. To quote two members of the Climate Legislative and Executive Workgroup (CLEW) during their last hearing: Ranker: “We’ve got to fish or cut bait… You have to put forward a proposal. If you’re talking about a cap, and the market mechanisms that are associated with that, you have to put together a proposal.” Ftizgibbon: “When we started this process a couple of months ago, my hope had been that we would go through this workgroup process with the goal in mind of having legislation for the 2014 session to meet our carbon reduction targets in statute and I think it’s become clear that we’re not quite ready to do that at this point because we don’t have a fully designed system for any of the mechanisms that you’ve suggested, governor, to attain those either sector-specific or economy-wide policies.” (And those were the Democrats on the CLEW!) I can tell you from personal experience that the Something or Nothing debate is always heavily tilted in favor of Nothing. That’s understandable—carbon pricing is hard, Inslee’s up for re-election in 2016, etc. etc.—but those of us who want Something need to focus on making sure there are proposals on the table and deadlines for making them happen.

Other news: Locally, the City of Seattle is offering climate grants of up to $10,000 (for community projects) or $500 (for small projects). Nationally, Adele Morris at Brookings Institution appears to be making headway with her SIP-SWAP idea of allowing states to use carbon pricing to meet federal GHG regulations. And there’s support for carbon pricing from gubernatorial candidates in Massachusetts (perhaps because they’ve read these ETR-US economic analyses.)

Good reads: Rachel Berkowitz has a fine article in Physics Today: “Greener ways to raise revenue”. The latest from conservative climate champion Bob Inglis is from the Miami Herald: “Climate change is a conservative cause — really”. And there have been a spate of articles about the BC carbon tax, including Jeff Spross in ClimateProgress (“Is the solution to climate change in Vancouver?”) and Chris Mooney’s fabulous article in Mother Jones: “British Columbia Enacted the Most Significant Carbon Tax in the Western Hemisphere. What Happened Next Is It Worked.”

Events: I’ll be doing comedy-and-carbon-tax talks in the Tri-Cities and Yakima April 23-24 and talking carbon pricing at 350 Seattle‘s Connecting the Dots event on Sunday April 27. Some of the eastside events are joint with the terrific folks at Citizens Climate Lobby, which has chapters around the state. (Seattle folks with a few hours a week to contribute are encouraged to contact Louise Stonington at 206-322-7193 or



Comments ( 7 )

  • Yoram Bauman says:

    Comment #1 via email: You could think about including a “get out the way provision” where anything achieved via cap and trade would be automagically subtracted from your carbon price tax-and-refund proposal. Then people, including Inslee I would think, could happily support both.

    • Yoram Bauman says:

      Response: This would basically happen automatically with a carbon tax. But it’s the political angle that could be a challenge.

  • Yoram Bauman says:

    Comment #2 via email: I would not be able to support “cap-and-trade” which rewards wealthy investors at everyone else’s expense, and has proven ineffective for reducing carbon emissions where already implemented.

  • Yoram Bauman says:

    Comment #3 via email: I do not support cap/trade… I’m an engineer. The correct and best solution is also the simplest: apply transactional friction via a pollution tax.

  • Yoram Bauman says:

    Comment #4 via email: Part of our CCL discussion last month was the potential for a carbon tax to complement a cap and trade program.

    Not mutually exclusive.

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