Campaign News

In British Columbia, the right-of-center Liberal Party decided to essentially freeze the carbon tax at its current rate of $30/ton CO2. (They are going to continue an exemption for greenhouses and seek a new exemption for farm diesel.) See pp58-63 of this budget document for details. Also very much worth a read is “A Tale of Two Taxes: The Fate of Environmental Tax Reform in Canada” by UBC professor Kathryn Harrison. You can read the abstract from the link above, email me if you’re interested in seeing the whole article, which is long but worth it.

In Oregon there are four carbon tax bills under consideration. I haven’t gone into the details, but if you want to then here’s the bills: HB 2497 (one of two from the House Revenue Committee); HB 2792 (Energy and Environment Committee, chaired by awesome Rep Jules Bailey); HB 2874 (the other House Revenue Committee bill); and SB 537 (carbon tax study bill). Go Oregon!

In Virginia, the state legislature passed a complicated transportation bill that Republican governor Bob McDonnell supports. The best summary I’ve found (from the Coalition for Smarter Growth) says that the bill funds a lot of new highway construction and does so in large part by increasing the state sales tax. (It also shifts the state gas tax from a per-gallon tax to a percent tax, so the net effect of that depends on gas prices.) My take-away from this is that legislators (including Republicans) are desperate for transportation infrastructure funding and that a carbon tax would be a much better way to get it than a general sales tax.

Finally, here in Washington there are some details on Judy Clibborn’s transportation package. See the links at the bottom of her press release, especially the Fact Sheet showing that half the funds go to new projects (I-5, I-90, 167, 509, 395) and only 7% goes to maintenance of the state system. That’s only $631m for maintenance of the state system despite the need (identified by Connecting Washington) of $3.1 billion. (And of course Connecting Washington identified $4.9 billion in maintenance needs at the city and county levels; Clibborn’s proposal provides $675m in assistance.) BTW, Sightline’s Clark Williams-Derry reminds me of their estimate that each new lane-mile of urban highway creates up to 186,500 tons of CO2 over 50 years.

In somewhat happier news, last week Governor Inslee introduced a climate action study bill into both the House and Senate. At its core is a proposal for the state to commission a rigorous review of carbon reduction policies in other states and provinces. Stay tuned for more on this!

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