Campaign News

Here’s a draft agenda for Thursday’s meeting, which as usual will be 12-1pm in the 5th floor conference room at 1402 3rd Ave:

12:00-12:05: Introductions

12:05-12:30: Anna Fahey, Communications Specialist from Sightline, will share her public opinion research on carbon taxes, willingness-to-pay, cap-and-trade &etc.

12:30-12:50: Updates on legal, policy, op-ed, website, signature-gathering pledges, and WCI/Waxman-Markey.

12:50-1:00: Next steps and next meeting (Th July 2, but maybe cancel or move to Mon July 6?)

PS #1: Last week I attended a UW law school conference on climate change and human rights, and the message I left with is that the niche we’re trying to fill—what happens if WCI and Waxman-Markey don’t pass?—is an important one. The attendees (including folks who have actually read all 900 pages of Waxman-Markey 🙂 were not optimistic about the prospects of Waxman-Markey passing both houses of Congress before the next turn-over of the Senate (after the 2010 election), and it sounds like there’s lots of concern that nothing substantial will happen at the international negotiations in Copenhagen in December, either. So that puts attention back on state- and regional-level action, which is exactly our niche.

PS #2: Phil Mitchell sent out the message below to his network last week, and I wanted to share it with all of you because it does a great job of staking out our position viz-a-viz enviros who want action on climate change. Enjoy, and hope to see you Thursday!

A ballot initiative to abolish the state property tax and replace it with a carbon tax.

I hope you got a chance to celebrate last week at the EPA hearings — it was a blast. While we do have much to celebrate, we also have to keep our eyes on the prize: policy action that will actually work to halt global warming.

First, let me recap where we stand.

We’ve been trying to pass a regional cap on climate pollution (Western Climate Initiative). This past session our reps in Olympia had the chance to move it forward and failed to act. We will try again next year. I call that Plan A.

Then there’s federal action. As you know, a massive climate bill is finally moving through Congress, but it’s future is unclear. That’s Plan B.

The question is, what should we do if state and federal action continues to stall? I’m inviting you to get involved in Plan C.

Plan C is a ballot initiative to abolish the state property tax (and replace the revenues with a carbon tax). This is a brilliant idea. It is a carbon tax with a difference — it actually saves you money (if you own property), unless you’re an energy hog that won’t reduce your carbon footprint. If you don’t own property and are low income, it raises enough revenue to provide you a rebate. And it actually has a chance of passing, because it targets the state property tax, which people hate.

And it will steadily reduce our emissions of global warming pollution. More details are below.

I think this is a great idea and should be our backup plan if Plans A and B go nowhere. I myself have committed to work on it — if it’s a go — and I’m asking you to do the same.

Please write back to me and let me know if you’ll pledge to gather signatures. We are building a coalition of partners, and having signature pledges from you will really help recruit additional partners.

The pledge is to gather 900 signatures between early February 2010 and late June 2010. You won’t do this in one afternoon (unless you get 10 friends to help), but it’s doable. And of course we’ll provide you with training and lists of good signature-gathering locations &etc… all we need is your time and enthusiasm!

Understand that we are committing to do this only if Plans A and B continue to go nowhere. This initiative is being led by Yoram Bauman, an economist who co-authored an excellent Sightline book on Tax Shifting. It is inspired by a successful carbon tax that was passed in British Columbia.

Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing from you!

Phil

Details
We’re still working on the policy details, but the gist of it will be (1) imposing a carbon tax of $30-50 per ton of CO2, which amounts to about $0.30-$0.50 per gallon of gasoline or about $0.03-$0.05 per kWh of coal-fired power, with the tax rate increasing over time; (2) using the majority of the revenue to repeal the state portion of the property tax; and (3) using a smaller portion of the revenue to offset impacts on low-income households and perhaps also reduce business taxes and/or increase funding for clean energy research and for K-12 math/science education. FYI this proposal is roughly similar to the award-winning carbon tax currently in effect in British Columbia.

Since the whole point of a carbon tax is to reduce the risk from harmful carbon emissions, some may be concerned that revenue from a carbon tax would decrease over time and fail replace the property tax revenue needed to support our schools. The truth is that by increasing the tax at a slow but steady rate, we can maintain a stable revenue stream even as carbon emissions fall.

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