Hello carbon tax friends: The big news this week is that we are entering the home stretch of our push to 100,000 signatures by the end of July! Saturday August 1st is the last day to postmark or otherwise turn in your July signature pages to your local coordinator, or bring them by the office (1914 N 34th St, Suite 407), or mail them to us (CarbonWA; PO Box 85565; Seattle WA 98145-1565); we’ll announce the totals next week so fill up your sheets this week and send them in! And if you want a contest to motivate you, CarbonWA’s Seattle staff is embarking on an 8-hour “Amazing Signature Race” mission on Friday July 31st; there are great prizes for the most signatures collected from 9-5 and you can participate no matter where you are in the state as long as you follow the two rules: no cars or mopeds allowed, and you must change location every hour. (You can also follow updates on Twitter: @CarbonWA.)
And this week there’s a second piece of big news: the headline story about CarbonWA in the local section of Sunday’s Seattle Times. Our favorite part of the article is the adjective “scrappy”, as in “the scrappy, grass-roots I-732 campaign”. (And on that note, if you or someone you know might want to be an intern with us, check out our fundraising intern position or email firstname.lastname@example.org for other opportunities!) We’ve already received a lot of email as a result of the article, so if you haven’t read it yet please do and then read on for our response:
God bless you and good luck, and go support them. And we mean that: our joint statement with the Alliance said that “we have no objections to individuals or groups supporting or working with either or both groups”, and we fully intend to live up to those words.
Make up your mind and get off the fence because the movement for climate action needs you. Both the Alliance and Carbon Washington care deeply about climate change, and both groups have impressive lists of supporters. The four main differences are these:
1) Carbon Washington believes that pursuing bipartisan climate action through a revenue-neutral approach is the right strategy in Washington State and in Washington, DC; the Alliance believes that the way to win is to use a revenue-positive package to unite the left.
2) Carbon Washington is advocating for a specific policy (a revenue-neutral carbon tax) and we are asking you to sign I-732 and collect signatures from your friends and neighbors and co-workers; the Alliance does not have a specific policy, so they are asking you to sign their “I believe in Washington” pledge.
3) Carbon Washington is committed to “taking a swing at the ball” because 2016 is a can’t-miss opportunity for climate action; the Alliance is exploring ballot options but they are not committed to running an initiative in 2016 because they believe that “swinging and missing” (i.e., losing at the ballot) would set the movement back.
4) The Alliance thinks the most important result from the poll they conducted last month is that initial support for the Carbon Washington proposal is under 40% (i.e., 39%); Carbon Washington thinks the most important result from that poll is that support climbs to over 60% (61% Yes, 35% No, 4% Undecided) when the proposal is explained in simple language.
Keep your eye on the ball. The way we succeed in reducing carbon emissions is not by responding in kind to the attacks by the Alliance but by collecting signatures and raising money and getting on the ballot and changing the world. Repeat after me: Collecting signatures and raising money, collecting signatures and raising money, collecting signatures and raising money…
You know the drill: Check the signature-gathering calendars (in particular here’s Seattle RSVP and Bellevue RSVP forms), reach out to friends and family and neighbors, encourage young people or other folks you know to apply for a summer job working on carbon taxes, connect with us on Facebook and Twitter; volunteer to make phone calls from your home or help out around the campaign office or help with your local chapter, etc. Everybody can do something. Thank you for your time and energy!
Our plan to get on the ballot involves raising $120,000 by next week (and then an additional $30,000 a month for the rest of the year) in order to pay staff and finance paid signature-gatherers to supplement our terrific volunteer effort. You can mail a check to the PO Box above (or donate online), and you can also help by hosting a fundraising house party with Events Fundraiser Ellen Lockert. And if you have the capacity to join me and others in making a $10,000+ contribution to the campaign then please contact me ASAP so we can tell you more about our $120k challenge for next week. Everybody can give something, whether it’s $10 or $1000. Thank you for your support and your consideration!
Climate change is too important for us to just “please step aside” when somebody tells us to raise the white flag. Just as importantly, nobody should have veto power over the democratic process that we are all part of. But we will continue to meet with all concerned communities, so if you’ve got an idea that is better than ours—an idea that polls better, that does a better job of tackling climate change, and that does more for social justice and sustainable economic growth—then just let us know.
(And, speaking of polling, here’s a technical aside about the polling the Alliance has done: The Alliance has chosen not to release the full results of their poll—that is their prerogative—but they were kind enough to invite key Carbon Washington members to a briefing on the results. Our agreement was that we would treat the results as confidential unless and until the Alliance went public with the results, and we all lived up to that agreement. At some point before Sunday’s article came out, the Alliance decided—again, this is their prerogative—to “go negative” by releasing those poll results that make Carbon Washington look untenable, so we are responding by “going positive” with additional details of the poll results. The only other relevant piece of information here is that simple deductive reason is sufficient to conclude that the Alliance polling did not reveal any climate pricing option that significantly outpolls Carbon Washington… because if they had, they would be beating our idea by telling everybody about their better idea!)
If all the stuff with the Alliance (and here’s more) has you feeling down, go read “All of us can act locally to affect climate change” by Jennifer Davis in The Olympian (which endorsed I-732 last month) and then go read “We need optimists” in the NY Times. (Never mind that the author is the head of the American Enterprise Institute!)
And then, no matter how you’re feeling, go read Ramez Naam’s blog post about CarbonWA: “Citizens Led on Gay Marriage and Pot. We Can on Climate Change Too.” (Mez is an author, speaker, and futurist (!) and he’s also hosting a house party fundraiser for us next month.) In fact, this blog post is so great I’m going to excerpt it almost in full (with permission, and with the caveat that I can’t figure out how to reprint the embedded graphics):
A decade ago, it was nearly inconceivable that in 2015, gay marriage would be legal across the US and marijuana fully legal in four states plus the District of Columbia.
Yet it happened. It happened because citizens who wanted change led, from the bottom up, often through citizens initiatives.
America can change its mind quite quickly, as this piece from Bloomberg documents.
Whatever you may think of legalized marijuana and same sex marriage, their trajectory shows how quickly change can happen, particularly when led by the people.
What’s a revenue-neutral carbon tax? It’s a move that keeps total taxes the same, but shifts taxes onto pollution, instead of (in this case) sales tax, or the tax of low-income people. This particular proposal reduces total taxes on the working poor, helping address Washington’s fairly regressive state tax policy.
And, as I’ve written before, a carbon tax would accelerate innovation in clean energy.
Think globally, act locally. Getting this measure on the WA ballot in 2016 would start a ball rolling. WA helped lead the nation, passing referendums on same sex marriage and medical marijuana in 2012. Those helped pave the way for other states. When one state leads, others will follow.
A carbon tax isn’t enough on its own to solve climate change. Other policies are needed. But this is an excellent start.
CarbonWA needs to accumulate roughly 250,000 verified signatures by December to get this measure on the ballot for 2016. In a state of 7 million people, that’s a large number of signatures. That takes money, volunteers, and publicity.
I’ll be donating to CarbonWA, and you’ll see me write about the importance of this again.
In the meantime, if you’re interested, you can:
And most importantly, spread the word.
As always comments are welcome on the blog (or email them to me if you encounter a bug that seems to be affecting the blog comment feature) or via Facebook or Twitter, and please send your Tales from the Trails, good or bad, to me at email@example.com (please cc: firstname.lastname@example.org if you can).
Talk to your friends and neighbors about I-732