NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

Alliance for Jobs & Clean Energy will go to the ballot in 2016 with initiative to cap pollution

Exciting news to share today: The Alliance for Jobs & Clean Energy, of which NPI is a member, has announced that it will be launching an initiative to the people for 2016 to cap emissions of pollutants that have given our planet an increasingly bad fever. The initiative will appear on the November 2016 statewide ballot in Washington.

According to the Alliance, if enacted into law by the voters of Washington, “the initiative would build on the state’s recently announced Clean Air Rule by enforcing existing global warming pollution reduction targets, charging the largest emitters a fee for each ton of carbon pollution they emit. The funds will be invested in accelerating the transition to a clean energy economy and addressing the impacts of carbon pollution on our air, land and people.”

“Washington has long been a national leader on technology innovation, from airplanes and software, to energy efficiency and renewable energy,” said Brenna Davis, Chair of Washington Business for Climate Action, during an Alliance press conference today at EnWave Seattle. “Today we continue in that spirit of innovation, resolving to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy in a way that supports affected businesses and communities.”

The Washington State Legislature considered cap and trade legislation proposed by Governor Jay Inslee this past session, but failed to make much progress due to Republicans’ unwillingness to act on pollution accountability. Neither chamber took a vote on Inslee’s legislation, though the Democratic-run House gave it serious consideration. (The Senate, which is controlled by Republicans, didn’t bother.)

Today’s announcement is great news for our region’s progressive movement. It shows a serious commitment to action. It means there will be a serious, credible campaign next year to get our pollution problem under control.

Washington needs to be a leader in reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and other climate crisis-causing air pollutants. If Washington’s elected representatives won’t act, voters should be given the chance to.

NPI strongly supports the decision to go to the statewide ballot in 2016. We’ve been calling for the Alliance to launch a 2016 initiative for months, here on the Cascadia Advocate and in other forums. We’re very, very pleased that the Alliance is moving forward, and we will be fully supporting its efforts to develop a strong, robust initiative that does not suffer from the fatal flaws of CarbonWA’s I-732.

How we approach this problem matters, as our Alliance partners have noted.

“Because the impacts of climate change are not distributed evenly, it’s crucial that the experience and knowledge of communities on the frontlines are now part of creating the solutions,” said Peter Bloch Garcia, Executive Director of Latino Community Fund. “Addressing climate change can also support environmental and economic equity for communities of color and people with lower incomes.”

From now until the new year, the Alliance’s initiative proposal will be in the development phase. It is our hope that it will be developed using an open source-style development model, so Alliance members and interested citizens can contribute to making the text as good as it can be.

When January 2016 arrives, it’ll be time to file the final text with the Secretary of State, and then, soon after, there will be a kickoff event to launch the signature drive. Signatures will be due the Friday following Independence Day 2016. The Alliance will need to collect around 320,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot.

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  1. The climate community should be backing the carbon tax initiative (I732), which will certainly get enough signatures to quality. This blog post is incorrect in saying I-732 is flawed. It is not. And a similar approach has worked very well in British Columbia. Cap and trade approaches have failed everywhere they have been tried (e.g., Europe). Furthermore, an approach that is not revenue neutral will be unpopular in eastern Washington and among more conservative folks. Why do some in the climate community insist in destroying the potential for real progress?

    # by Cliff Mass :: October 6th, 2015 at 1:27 PM
    • We disagree, Cliff. I-732 is an initiative NPI has carefully evaluated. We believe it’s fatally flawed, and we cannot support it.

      Credible research by the Alliance shows that conservative voters are unwilling to support I-732. Alienating progressive voters in an attempt to gain support from conservative voters who have no interest in taking action to combat the climate crisis is a fool’s errand. It’s bad strategy.

      And British Columbia is not the leader on climate you suggest it is. British Columbia’s carbon tax isn’t working well at all:

      If you live in British Columbia you might think that our province is a climate champion, because you heard it from our government. Last month, for example, the provincial government sent out a bold press release touting B.C. as a world leader in climate action. The release highlighted B.C.’s carbon tax and the accomplishment of “meeting our 2012 GHG reduction target.”

      However, just a few days later, the Canadian government released its latest greenhouse gas emissions data showing that B.C.’s emissions actually increased by 2.4 per cent in 2013 (to 63 million tons of greenhouse gases, from 61.5 in 2012. This is a big deal, because the threat of global warming has reached a point at which we cannot afford our annual emissions to continue to increase.

      Emphasis is mine. The full blog post is here.

      I’ve been to British Columbia, and I’ve talked with progressive activists there, and young progressive leaders like David Eby, who is now an MLA (Member of the B.C. Legislative Assembly). Christy Clark and the Liberals are some of the biggest greenwashers in history. They’re not environmental leaders.

      Rather than emulating B.C., we should be working in tandem with California, which has been implementing a robust cap and trade system. We are looking forward to being part of the effort to launch a serious, credible pollution accountability initiative campaign for Washington State as part of the Alliance for Jobs & Clean Energy.

      # by Andrew :: October 6th, 2015 at 2:29 PM
  2. I’m with Cliff Mass. I-732 seems like a pretty solid plan and makes the most sense

    # by Lindsay :: October 8th, 2015 at 3:59 PM
  3. I like Cliff Mass and appreciate his weather commentary, but I don’t agree with him that I-732 is a good idea. We should join forces with other states that are doing cap and trade. The Alliance, unlike CarbonWA, has built a huge coalition that is going to reach out to all the diverse constituencies of our state. The Alliance’s initiative is going to be the one worth putting time and money into.

    # by Roger Forrester :: October 8th, 2015 at 6:34 PM
  4. Unfortunately, the Alliance has not released any of the resullts of the polling it did on how well its proposal to tie doing something about climate to a sizable tax increase appeals to voters. (I find it hard to believe that makes it more attractive to Washingon voters overall than a proposal tied to equal tax cuts.)

    The claim that a one year increase in BC’s emissions, between 2012 and 2013, shows that “it isn’t working well at all” is about as sophisticated an analysis as saying that having it be colder this year than it was last year shows that the planet isn’t warming.

    I didn’t mind that the Alliance and its supporters think raising revenue is a politically viable route to getting carbon pricing. I do mind their making a joint statement with Carbon WA last May 5th saying “in particular we are committed to avoiding two competing carbon pollution-pricing measures on the ballot in November 2016” and then announcing their new plan to try to put a competing carbon pollution pricing measure on the ballot next November this week, when it became clear that Carbon WA’s measure was headed for success.

    And I mind the shaky arguments like this they’ve resorted to over the past few months in trying to persuade progressives not to support I-732. (Especially the ongoing claim that it doesn’t do enough for social justice, when I-732 actually would provide almost 30% more support for low-income communities than the Governor’s first proposal in the Legislature, which the Allaince supported enthusiastically.)

    # by Thad Curtz :: October 9th, 2015 at 1:21 PM
  5. Everyone should throw their support behind the Alliance’s plan. It may not be fleshed out yet, but when it is, it’s going to be solid. They’re starting from the proper place.

    # by Kelli Bridge :: October 12th, 2015 at 5:53 PM