Campaign News

Hello carbon tax friends, and happy new year!

Winter deliverables: We are continuing to work hard on our eight winter deliverables: (1) setting up chapters around the state (email me or info@carbonwa.org if you want to help!); (2) becoming part of the conversation (see for example the new Sightline post on the carbon tax swap calculator, and come to the UW panel discussion I’ll be on with KC Golden and Todd Myers on W Jan 14 at 5:30pm); (3) getting pledges for 200,000 signatures (you can help!); (4) connecting with businesses, organizations, and economists; (5) raising $100,000 so we can hire staff (thanks to your help we should get there by the end of this month!!); (6) finalizing our legal language (the latest test run was I-719: Initiative Measure No. 719 concerns taxes. This measure would impose a tax on certain fossil fuels and electricity generated by fossil fuels, phase in a one-percentage-point sales tax reduction, reduce certain business taxes, and increase a sales tax exemption. Should this measure be enacted into law? Yes [ ] No [ ]; (7) expanding our social media presence (you can help by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter!); and (8) reviewing and updating our website and printed materials (for example we’re working on David P’s great idea for a side-by-side graph comparing our policy with the governor’s policy).

CarbonWA’s strategy: Everybody loves a good sports metaphor (!), so here are two that should help explain CarbonWA’s strategy:

Metaphor #1: The relief pitcher. CarbonWA’s position relative to the Governor’s proposal is like the position of a relief pitcher relative to the starting pitcher in baseball or softball. The first thing this analogy clarifies is that we’re not in competition with the Governor. (In fact, we’re on the same team!) So we’re happy to recommend that folks who want to help the Governor’s proposal follow up here with WEC, but beyond that we’re taking a fairly detached and objective view. That’s because—and this is the second thing this analogy clarifies—our focus is on getting our own campaign up to speed, on being ready to enter the game and win the game. It’s no knock against a starting pitcher to point out that the percentage of pitchers who make it through all nine innings is only 2.4%, and it’s no knock against the Governor or his policy to point out that he’s got an incredibly steep uphill battle in the legislature. We’ll follow that battle (the most recent news being Jim Lazar’s observation that—following through on a deal made under the previous administration—the Governor’s bill exempts the Centralia coal plant) but our focus is on our winter deliverables and on getting our own campaign up to speed.

Metaphor #2: Taking a swing at the ball. Let’s be honest: carbon pricing is hard. So is getting a hit against Felix Hernandez. But difficult is not impossible, so we’re determined to take a swing at the ball, especially because the latest polling shows that we have a decent chance. (For what it’s worth, the poll also shows that a revenue-neutral carbon tax polls better than cap-and-trade.) The best time to try at the ballot is November 2016 because the presidential race will bring out lots of voters who care about climate change, including voters aged 18-34 of whom a whopping 76.6% support our policy (see p15).

And there you have it, a relief pitcher who’s determined to take a swing at the ball: CarbonWA’s strategy in a mixed-metaphor nutshell!

Readings: Op-eds in support of carbon taxes from Harvard economist Larry Summers in the Washington Post (“Oil’s swoon creates the opening for a carbon tax”, a sentiment echoed by Tim Worstall in Forbes and by Kemal Dervis, VP of the Brookings Institution; for more on gas prices see this from the New York Times) and from Irwin Stelzer, a conservative economist with the Weekly Standard and the Hudson Institute who wrote this in the National Review: “The carbon tax has something for everyone: It would help the economy and reduce pollution.” Locally, James Conca surveys “2014: The year in energy”. And here’s State Senator Curtis King (R-Yakima) writing “Transportation funding alternatives to the governor’s plan” in the Seattle Times. (The op-ed doesn’t actually put forward any transportation funding alternatives, and in fact it’s mostly about the negatives of the Governor’s climate proposal, but it does show some of the challenges facing the Governor and the state legislature; also, Bertha doesn’t help.) And here’s Patrick Mazza writing “West Coast climate leadership likely moving to the grassroots”:

“Gov. Inslee is making a bet that the need to fund education and transportation is so compelling that he can swing Republican support to a carbon pollution cap. He may be able to do this, and more power to him if he can.  But if he can’t, leadership and momentum move from Olympia to the grassroots, to CarbonWA’s BC-style carbon tax.  If it does I’ll be right there, any quibbles over revenue-neutral notwithstanding.”

Events: Tomorrow (W Jan 7) is the Washington Policy Center’s Solutions Summit in Bellevue, featuring a session on environmental issues (which may or may not include climate change!) at 10:50am. (Sorry for the late notice, especially for those of you who might have gone to the eastside Summit that took place today in Kennewick.) Then on W Jan 14 at 5:30pm there’s the UW panel discussion I’ll be on with KC Golden and Todd Myers, plus drinks afterwards at Big Time Brewery. And on W Jan 28 I’ll be giving a comedy-and-carbon-tax talk at the Seattle UUC as part of the church’s fabulous Climate Week series. And stay tuned for news on another CarbonWA social gathering in Seattle and on events elsewhere in the state!

As always comments welcome on the blog or via Facebook and Twitter.

Regards,

yoram

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