NO on Initiative 732
NO on Initiative 732

Yes­ter­day, dur­ing the mid­dle day of its 2016 win­ter meet­ing, the Wash­ing­ton State Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty went on record as opposed to Car­bon­WA’s I‑732, join­ing the Wash­ing­ton State Labor Coun­cil and IAM’s Dis­trict Lodge 751 in the no camp. I‑732 is a com­plex tax swap pro­pos­al that would levy a car­bon tax while also reduc­ing sales and busi­ness & occu­pa­tion taxes.

Car­bon­WA and oth­er I‑732 pro­po­nents con­tend that their tax swap is “rev­enue neu­tral” (mean­ing it would not increase or decrease state rev­enue). Non­par­ti­san leg­isla­tive staff and the Depart­ment of Rev­enue don’t agree. Accord­ing to DOR’s cal­cu­la­tions, I‑732 would reduce rev­enue by near­ly $1 bil­lion over the next four years. (That’s bil­lion, with a b.) Car­bon­WA insists DOR’s analy­sis is erro­neous, and that the ini­tia­tive would ulti­mate­ly be “approx­i­mate­ly rev­enue neu­tral”.

But the Wash­ing­ton State Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty has decid­ed it does­n’t want to take a chance on I‑732 and has for­mal­ly come out against the measure.

The par­ty’s State Cen­tral Com­mit­tee, the WSDCC, con­sid­ered duel­ing res­o­lu­tions on the ini­tia­tive this week­end. One was to take a posi­tion in sup­port of I‑732, and the oth­er was to take a posi­tion in oppo­si­tion. The lat­ter received a “do pass” rec­om­men­da­tion from the WSD­C­C’s Res­o­lu­tions Com­mit­tee and was sub­se­quent­ly adopt­ed, while the for­mer got a “no pass” rec­om­men­da­tion and was rejected.

The WSD­C­C’s Res­o­lu­tions Com­mit­tee has the unen­vi­able task of vet­ting and word­smithing res­o­lu­tions that go before the full Cen­tral Com­mit­tee at its five reg­u­lar meet­ings dur­ing each two-year cycle. (Full dis­clo­sure: I sit on the WSDCC as a vot­ing mem­ber, but I am not on the WSD­C­C’s Res­o­lu­tions Committee.)

The Com­mit­tee heard from speak­ers in sup­port of and oppo­si­tion to I‑732 pri­or to reach­ing its deci­sion. In the end, the com­mit­tee vot­ed over­whelm­ing­ly for the res­o­lu­tion to take a posi­tion oppos­ing I‑732, a rec­om­men­da­tion that was enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly adopt­ed by the full WSDCC a few hours later.

The There­fore, be it resolved claus­es of the res­o­lu­tion state:

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Wash­ing­ton State Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty go on record oppos­ing I‑732, and […] in sup­port of a com­pre­hen­sive pol­i­cy to reduce car­bon emis­sions and GHGs that cre­ates a descend­ing cap on emis­sions, prices car­bon with the flex­i­bil­i­ty need­ed to pre­vent com­pa­nies from whole­sale leav­ing the state while at the same time help­ing them to become as car­bon effi­cient as pos­si­ble, pro­vides equi­ty to fos­sil fuel work­ers and com­mu­ni­ties of col­or, invests in cli­mate adap­ta­tion and mit­i­ga­tion and lever­ages an accel­er­at­ed devel­op­ment of the new clean ener­gy econ­o­my; and

THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the State Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty will work with labor, envi­ron­ment, com­mu­ni­ties of col­or, faith, pub­lic health and pro­gres­sive busi­ness orga­ni­za­tions to edu­cate and orga­nize around a com­pre­hen­sive car­bon and GHG reduc­tion pol­i­cy that can be intro­duced to the state leg­is­la­ture or to the bal­lot at the ear­li­est pos­si­ble opportunity.

We have out­lined our own objec­tions to I‑732 here on the Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate on a num­ber of occa­sions, notably last Sep­tem­ber, when we pub­lished this post by our Pres­i­dent, Robert Cruick­shank. We felt I‑732 was fatal­ly flawed even before the state pub­lished its analy­sis con­clud­ing that I‑732 was actu­al­ly rev­enue negative.

Whether the ini­tia­tive is rev­enue neg­a­tive or not, we think it’s poor­ly writ­ten. We do appre­ci­ate that pro­po­nents of I‑732 are well-inten­tioned peo­ple who want to take action to address the cli­mate cri­sis. How­ev­er, we can­not sup­port their approach.

Per­plex­ing­ly, Car­bon­WA con­tin­ues to try to sell I‑732 to peo­ple by talk­ing about fol­low­ing the “lead” of British Colum­bia, which is cur­rent­ly gov­erned by one of the biggest groups of green­wash­ers in his­to­ry: Christy Clark’s B.C. Lib­er­als, who seem­ing­ly haven’t met a pipeline or fos­sil fuel ter­mi­nal project they did­n’t like.

British Colum­bia adopt­ed a car­bon tax years ago, but it has not been suc­cess­ful in keep­ing the province’s emis­sions in check.

In fact, British Columbi­a’s emis­sions have been going up, not down.

Lead­ers of Car­bon­WA have described sup­port for their ini­tia­tive as “bipar­ti­san” and have said they craft­ed the ini­tia­tive to appeal to vot­ers across the ide­o­log­i­cal spec­trum, but Car­bon­WA’s endorse­ments page does­n’t list a sin­gle orga­ni­za­tion affil­i­at­ed with the Repub­li­can Par­ty or active in the con­ser­v­a­tive movement.

And, as even Car­bon­WA has admit­ted, polling sug­gests right-lean­ing vot­ers in Wash­ing­ton are incred­i­bly hos­tile to the idea of levy­ing a car­bon tax.

To have even a prayer of win­ning, Car­bon­WA would need pro­gres­sives and Democ­rats every­where to unite behind I‑732. But that is not hap­pen­ing, part­ly because Car­bon­WA’s pro­pos­al is poor­ly writ­ten, and part­ly because Car­bon­WA has been need­less­ly alien­at­ing pro­gres­sives with ridicu­lous com­men­tary like this:

[Yoram Bau­man] is an envi­ron­men­tal econ­o­mist and stand-up come­di­an (yes, an unusu­al com­bo). He is also one of the lead­ers of the effort in Wash­ing­ton State to pass a car­bon tax. He has been work­ing tire­less­ly to build support.

Based on his expe­ri­ences, he has a mes­sage for envi­ron­men­tal activists: “I am increas­ing­ly con­vinced that the path to cli­mate action is through the Repub­li­can Par­ty. Yes, there are chal­lenges on the right — skep­ti­cism about cli­mate sci­ence and about tax reform — but those are sur­mount­able with time and effort. The same can­not be said of the chal­lenges on the left: an unyield­ing desire to tie every­thing to big­ger gov­ern­ment, and a will­ing­ness to use race and class as polit­i­cal weapons in order to pur­sue that desire.”

Yoram Bau­man is a fun­ny guy, but this time he is not joking.

If you’re won­der­ing how Car­bon­WA’s efforts to reach out to Repub­li­cans are going, the answer is not well. As I men­tioned already, they haven’t scored any endorse­ments from groups on the right. Repub­li­can leg­is­la­tors, mean­while, have been open­ly dis­dain­ful of I‑732 when asked about it by the press.

Doug Erick­sen, who is a very good friend of Tim Eyman and all the oil com­pa­nies oper­at­ing in the state, trash­es I‑732 every chance he gets. For instance, here’s a KING5 sto­ry from last month about Car­bon­WA’s sub­mis­sion of sig­na­tures:

Sen. Doug Erick­sen, R‑Ferndale, con­sid­ers the ini­tia­tive an ener­gy tax instead of a car­bon tax.

Erick­sen chairs the Sen­ate’s ener­gy committee.

He said the move would cause high­er home heat­ing bills and gas prices.

Bau­man did his cause no favors when he agreed with Erick­sen that gas prices would go up — even vol­un­teer­ing a fig­ure! Here’s the next two lines of the story:

Bau­man said the ini­tia­tive could end up rais­ing gas prices 25 cents a gallon.

Erick­sen also thinks the ini­tia­tive could end up hurt­ing the envi­ron­ment by encour­ag­ing Wash­ing­ton busi­ness­es to relo­cate over­seas in search of less restric­tive pol­lu­tion laws.

Yoram Bau­man’s co-chair Joe Ryan, mean­while, was recent­ly quot­ed in a Wash­ing­ton State Wire pro­file say­ing that car­bon tax­es are regres­sive.

And no, I’m not mak­ing this up.

For Ryan, the mid­dle-of the-road approach is the best way for­ward. His polit­i­cal ethos is a true rar­i­ty and one that he is eager to share. “I believe, and what I see in the world, is that peo­ple of diverse ide­olo­gies have truth to con­tribute. To exclude or scape­goat or demo­nize, frame them as scape­goats or ene­mies, you’re real­ly los­ing part of the truth. And so it’s impor­tant to get the full truth,” he said.

Per­haps it’s his ded­i­ca­tion to find­ing the whole truth that allows him to be so can­did about some of the poten­tial real­i­ties of a car­bon tax often avoid­ed by pro­po­nents of pric­ing car­bon. Look­ing heavy-heart­ed, he admit­ted that there will like­ly be job loss­es in cer­tain indus­tries, cou­pled with gains in oth­ers. With­out hes­i­ta­tion, he also said this: “Car­bon tax­es are regres­sive in terms of dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly impact­ing low income peo­ple. Our state tax sys­tem is already regres­sive so to make it more regres­sive is a con­cern for Car­bon WA.” Low­er­ing the sales tax, he says, reduces the over­all regres­sive­ness of Washington’s tax code.

Empha­sis is mine.

If Ryan believes car­bon tax­es are regres­sive, why is he work­ing to pass I‑732? Why aren’t he and Car­bon­WA push­ing for a cap and trade sys­tem instead?

Oth­er states, like Cal­i­for­nia, have already gone in that direc­tion. And Wash­ing­ton vot­ers are cer­tain­ly open to the idea as well, as was evi­dent from our research last year, when we asked the fol­low­ing ques­tion in a statewide poll:

Do you strong­ly sup­port, some­what sup­port, some­what oppose or strong­ly oppose imple­ment­ing a cap-and-trade sys­tem, where pol­luters would be charged a fee to reduce car­bon diox­ide emis­sions that would fund pub­lic schools and trans­porta­tion projects?

These were the answers:

  • Sup­port: 55%
    • 37% “strong­ly sup­port” cap and trade
    • 18% “some­what sup­port” cap and trade
  • Oppose: 43%
    • 11% “some­what oppose” cap and trade
    • 32% “strong­ly oppose” cap and trade
  • 2% answered “not sure” 

This ques­tion was part of a poll con­duct­ed by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling for NPI from Sep­tem­ber 18th to 21st, 2015, and sur­veyed 613 Wash­ing­ton vot­ers like­ly to cast bal­lots in the Novem­ber 2015 gen­er­al elec­tion. The results have a mar­gin of sam­pling error of +/- 4.0% at the 95% con­fi­dence level.

As this was a poll of like­ly 2015 vot­ers, we believe it actu­al­ly under­stat­ed the true lev­el of sup­port for cap and trade among this year’s elec­torate, which is pro­ject­ed to be sub­stan­tial­ly larg­er than last year’s.

(2015 saw the worst vot­er turnout in Wash­ing­ton State his­to­ry — at least since we began reg­is­ter­ing vot­ers in the 1930s.)

Now, Car­bon­WA likes to tout this sur­vey from G Squared Strate­gies, which in late 2014 asked four hun­dred like­ly vot­ers (which I’ll point out is a small­er sam­ple size than our poll from last year) the fol­low­ing question:

Would you favor or oppose the State of Wash­ing­ton impos­ing a car­bon tax on car­bon pro­duc­ing busi­ness­es if it also low­ered the state sales tax by 1% and elim­i­nat­ed the cur­rent busi­ness and occu­pa­tion tax­es on Washington’s busi­ness­es, caus­ing the new car­bon tax to be rev­enue neutral?”

53.7% of respon­dents in that sur­vey answered that they would be in favor, while 32.6% said they would be opposed. The poll had a mar­gin of error of +/- 4.9%.

Those per­cent­ages aren’t ter­ri­ble, but what are ter­ri­ble are the per­cent­ages that come back when the actu­al I‑732 bal­lot title has been test­ed. This is the ques­tion vot­ers will see on their bal­lots start­ing in October:

Ini­tia­tive Mea­sure No. 732 con­cerns taxes.

This mea­sure would impose a car­bon emis­sion tax on cer­tain fos­sil fuels and fos­sil-fuel-gen­er­at­ed elec­tric­i­ty, reduce the sales tax by one per­cent­age point and increase a low-income exemp­tion, and reduce cer­tain man­u­fac­tur­ing taxes.

Should this mea­sure be enact­ed into law? Yes [ ] No [ ]

Polling by the Alliance for Jobs & Clean Ener­gy has found the response in favor of the I‑732 bal­lot title to be just 39% — well under fifty per­cent. Yikes! The bal­lot title has­n’t per­formed much bet­ter in Car­bon­WA’s polling.

Keep in mind, this is where things stand for I‑732 before the impact of the inevitable, well-fund­ed No campaign.

Hav­ing worked for and against statewide ini­tia­tives for over a decade, we know a bad bal­lot title can be a major Achilles’ heel, just as a slick bal­lot title (the kind Tim Eyman always tries to wran­gle for his ini­tia­tives) can be a big blessing.

Car­bon­WA claims that I‑732 can pass in spite of its bad bal­lot title. We don’t see how, giv­en that I‑732 is so poor­ly writ­ten. The text does­n’t redeem the bal­lot title. You could argue I‑732 deserves the lack­lus­ter bal­lot title that it got.

If that weren’t bad enough, the oil indus­try now has plen­ty of mate­r­i­al to work with for what­ev­er ads and P.R. it decides to finance. They have co-chair Bau­man say­ing gas prices could rise twen­ty-five cents a gal­lon, and co-chair Ryan say­ing that car­bon tax­es are regres­sive and dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly impact low income people.

The folks at Car­bon­WA seem to be still feel­ing the glow of hav­ing qual­i­fied (nar­row­ly). They may think they have a win­ner on their hands with I‑732, but they seem to be about the only ones who think that.

Per­suad­ing peo­ple to sign a peti­tion is one thing. Get­ting peo­ple to vote yes on an ini­tia­tive is much hard­er. When in doubt, peo­ple usu­al­ly vote no.

If Bau­man and Ryan’s goal is to build a broad coali­tion to embrace the pol­i­cy that they and their team have come up with, they’re already failing.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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23 replies on “Washington State Democratic Party takes position opposing CarbonWA’s I‑732”

  1. I‑732 makes the state tax code sub­stan­tial­ly more progressive. 

    The quote by Joe Ryan was tak­en out of con­text. His point was that I‑732 does­n’t just tax car­bon: It also reduces some of the most regres­sive tax­es in the state, and funds (and increas­es) the Work­ing Fam­i­lies Tax Rebate. In con­junc­tion, those two changes to the state tax code cut the effec­tive tax rate on the bot­tom quin­tile of the state in more than half.

    See this explana­to­ry fig­ure on how I‑732 makes the tax code more progressive:

    I’m sur­prised to see that this isn’t under­stood in these quar­ters. I‑732 is a mas­sive­ly pro­gres­sive change to the state tax code. 

    Final­ly, note that the fis­cal analy­sis that found I‑732 rev­enue con­tains some very clear errors. For instance, it gave I‑732 zero cred­it for tax­ing the exports of elec­tric­i­ty from Wash­ing­ton, even though I‑732 quite clear­ly does this. More on the flaws in the fis­cal analy­sis (some of them quite glar­ing), here:

    Ramez Naam
    Car­bon­WA Exec­u­tive Com­mit­tee Member

  2. As a young, pro­gres­sive, life­long cli­mate advo­cate, I find this post both moral­ly unfor­giv­able and eco­nom­i­cal­ly illiterate. 

    1. You are advo­cat­ing against the only live, pro­gres­sive, rev­enue-neu­tral car­bon tax cam­paign in the country–in favor of an alter­nate pol­i­cy that DOES NOT EXIST. We are min­utes past mid­night for a liv­able plan­et. How dare you destroy the unimag­in­ably dif­fi­cult, self­less work of count­less vol­un­teers with the dream of…you know, maybe not dying? And you do this, “because polling,” “because Cal­i­for­nia,” and “because Tim EYMAN’s friend does­n’t like it”?! Thoughtful.

    2. You are igno­rant of even the bare fun­da­men­tals of car­bon pric­ing. You can price car­bon through a tax or cap and trade. They have the same effect. And yes, they are BOTH regressive–without care­ful treat­ment of result­ing rev­enues. Return­ing rev­enue to peo­ple can, instead, yield wild­ly pro­gres­sive pol­i­cy. I‑732 suc­ceeds in that by off­set­ting Wash­ing­ton’s regres­sive sales tax and fund­ing the Work­ing Fam­i­lies Tax Rebate. 

    Thank you for insur­ing that I nev­er again affil­i­ate as a Demo­c­rat. Your par­ty is fail­ing my generation.

  3. Words can­not express my lev­el of dis­ap­point­ment in Wash­ing­ton’s osten­si­bly pro­gres­sive lead­er­ship. Here we have the *only* fight­ing chance at real, mean­ing­ful car­bon pricing–orders of mag­ni­tude more mean­ing­ful than Cal­i­for­ni­a’s AB32–a mea­sure that would dra­mat­i­cal­ly strike the heart of our coun­try’s most regres­sive tax struc­ture, brought into the realm of the pos­si­ble only by the sac­ri­fice of grass­roots vol­un­teers. Even if a bet­ter mea­sure were avail­able today (and the fact that it’s not is the respon­si­bil­i­ty of the groups that are actu­al­ly mon­eyed enough to advance bal­lot ini­tia­tives) I should expect our Demo­c­ra­t­ic par­ty to sup­port both bills.

    This is where cyn­i­cism comes from. Entrenched polit­i­cal oper­a­tives that oppose any­thing not com­ing from them­selves. Go dig up your col­lege diary and try to ratio­nal­ize that your moti­va­tion for doing this work is remote­ly com­pat­i­bil­i­ty with your dis­grace­ful Machi­avel­lian bro­ker­ing of our future. Decen­cy demands that you imme­di­ate­ly reverse your posi­tion on I‑732, issue a for­mal apol­o­gy, and dear god, some­body has got to resign. What kind of world will our chil­dren inher­it if such a vile betray­al can exist with impunity?

  4. > If Ryan believes car­bon tax­es are regres­sive, why is he work­ing to pass I‑732? Why aren’t he and Car­bon­WA push­ing for a cap and trade sys­tem instead?

    A car­bon tax is regres­sive. So is a cap based sys­tem. They both fun­da­men­tal­ly impose a price on car­bon, result­ing in high­er fos­sil-fuel-based ener­gy costs, which dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly impacts low income individuals. 

    (The whole idea pric­ing car­bon is to inter­nal­ize the “true cost” of car­bon [ocean acid­i­fi­ca­tion, extreme storms, wild­fires], thus mak­ing car­bon-inten­sive goods more expen­sive. It’s this price sig­nal which incen­tivizes the tran­si­tion to renew­able ener­gy, local food sys­tems, and a car­bon-zero future!)

    Again, since low­er income folks use more of their incomes on ener­gy and trans­porta­tion, they will be dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly affect­ed. Ergo, a car­bon tax and a cap are regressive! 

    The ques­tion then is, how do we use the car­bon rev­enue to counter the inher­ent regres­sive­ness of a price on car­bon? How can we make it _progressive_ instead of regressive?

    C’mon, y’all. Ya got­ta do bet­ter. That plan­et is fry­ing, and you’re act­ing like we can sit this out.

  5. Def­i­nite­ly a good idea for Wash­ing­ton Democ­rats to come out against a viable statewide bal­lot mea­sure to price car­bon. Be sure to record this one in the diary for the grandkids.

  6. Yeah… this is why the Allaince for Jobs and Clean Ener­gy sup­port­ed Gov­er­nor Inslee’s first cap and trade pro­pos­al, which pro­vid­ed $143 mil­lion in sup­port for low income com­mu­ni­ties com­pared to I‑732’s $200 mil­lion, his sec­ond cap and trade pro­pos­al, which pro­vid­ed about half I‑732’s sup­port, and now sup­ports hav­ing Ecol­o­gy sim­ply cap emis­sions and raise fos­sil fuel prices while pro­vid­ing zero sup­port for low income communities.

    Though they haven’t yet announced it, email from the Alliance’s steer­ing com­mit­tee says they’ve now decid­ed, once again, that they’re not going to run a car­bon pric­ing ini­tia­tive this time after all. Maybe the time will be right as far as they’re con­cerned in…??

  7. Your char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of both votes is incorrect.

    I wrote the pro-732 res­o­lu­tion, and spoke against the anti-732 res­o­lu­tion, and of course was in the room dur­ing the debate and vote.

    Both res­o­lu­tions had been sub­mit­ted the evening before, and com­mit­tee mem­bers did not have hard copies of either of them. The anti-732 res­o­lu­tion was con­sid­ered first, and mem­bers had to try to read it off the pro­jec­tion screen. It was 4 pages long, with a lot of super­flu­ous where­as­es and sev­er­al fac­tu­al­ly wrong where­as­es in addi­tion to the tooth­less there­for­es. The com­mit­tee did not read the res­o­lu­tion before pass­ing it, and, hav­ing passed it, declared my pro-732 res­o­lu­tion moot. There was no attempt to read my resolution. 

    The anti-732 res­o­lu­tion was writ­ten by state par­ty Chair Jax­on Ravens. Hav­ing read it, I sug­gest you not throw stones about poor­ly writ­ten res­o­lu­tions or initiatives.

    As near as I can tell, this res­o­lu­tion was an offer­ing to Labor (the res­o­lu­tion men­tions refin­ery work­ers a half-dozen times as exam­ples of jobs that need sav­ing) in hopes they will not aban­don Gov­er­nor Inslee after his high­ly unpop­u­lar tax breaks for Boeing.

    1. There was noth­ing incor­rect about my char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of the votes, Steve. Your com­ment adds more col­or and con­text to what hap­pened in Lyn­nwood (which is per­fect­ly fine), but you have not actu­al­ly dis­put­ed what I wrote. 

      I too was in the room when the I‑732 res­o­lu­tions were being dis­cussed by the Res­o­lu­tions Com­mit­tee — I heard you speak, and wit­nessed your exchanges with com­mit­tee mem­bers. I was sit­ting in the back with the oth­er guests. 

      The res­o­lu­tion the WSDCC approved is not the res­o­lu­tion I would have writ­ten. Whether its where­as and there­fore be it resolved claus­es are whol­ly accu­rate or sound­ly con­struct­ed or not, it is true that the Res­o­lu­tions Com­mit­tee had a dis­cus­sion about I‑732 and vot­ed to give a “do pass” rec­om­men­da­tion to the res­o­lu­tion tak­ing a no posi­tion on I‑732, then a “no pass” rec­om­men­da­tion on your res­o­lu­tion, which the com­mit­tee deemed moot. 

      It is like­wise the case that when the WSDCC vot­ed on the res­o­lu­tion oppos­ing I‑732, there was pret­ty much no dis­sent. I was in the room when the WSDCC vot­ed. You were not, as you your­self admit­ted. You stat­ed lat­er in a speech dur­ing the Good of the Order that you were not in the room because you had stepped out. So you did­n’t wit­ness the WSD­C­C’s vote.

  8. I’m not going to take the time or space here to dis­pute what else you have writ­ten, though much could be disputed.

    The issue of the final vote is an inter­est­ing one. Some­one who was in the room and intend­ing to speak told me he missed the oppor­tu­ni­ty because the issue came and went so quick­ly. So I’m actu­al­ly not sure whether I was in the room or not, and I am sure the Chair did­n’t work very hard to receive comments.

    I agree with the oth­er com­menters that it was beyond dis­ap­point­ing for the par­ty (those few who were actu­al­ly aware of what they were doing) to have done this. 

    Let’s do this: I admit that there are things about your posi­tion that I don’t under­stand. If you could admit that there are things about mine (and oth­ers expressed here), per­haps we could have an actu­al conversation. 

    Mean­while, NPI is a mem­ber of the Alliance. Could you please give us some insights into what hap­pens next? What is their time­line? What will they do that will be bet­ter than what they are work­ing so hard to derail, and enough bet­ter that the lost time will be worthwhile?

    For ref­er­ence, here is the res­o­lu­tion. Cli­mate change as polit­i­cal football. 

  9. I think sev­er­al of the com­ments on this post amply demon­strate that Car­bon­WA’s sup­port­ers just do not take crit­i­cism well. They are con­vinced of the right­eous­ness of their plan. Woe to any­one who dis­agrees with them. They’ve crit­i­cized the Alliance for not putting any­thing con­crete on the table. The Alliance deserves that crit­i­cism, certainly. 

    But while they can dish out crit­i­cism, Car­bon­WA’s sup­port­ers can’t seem to take any. Too bad. 

    I could­n’t agree more than we need to act on cli­mate, and fast. But we also can’t afford to lose rev­enue. Our leg­is­la­tors are in con­tempt of court for not fund­ing our schools. 

    The Depart­ment of Rev­enue says I‑732 would be rev­enue neg­a­tive. Car­bon­WA says don’t lis­ten to them, their math is wrong. OK… but what if Car­bon­WA’s math is also off? 

    The way I see it, Car­bon­WA can­not guar­an­tee rev­enue neu­tral­i­ty. They won’t be in charge of imple­ment­ing their idea, they’re just the sales­men (and sales­women) for it. 

    I’m left to won­der why they did­n’t try to inten­tion­al­ly make the ini­tia­tive slight­ly rev­enue pos­i­tive. I guess they were so intent on want­i­ng to sell the pub­lic a “rev­enue neu­tral” plan that they failed to appre­ci­ate that it might be a good idea to err on the side of caution. 

    Lis­ten, Car­bon­WA sup­port­ers, you are not enti­tled to the sup­port of Demo­c­ra­t­ic, pro­gres­sive, labor, and envi­ron­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions for your plan. You have to earn it. Your com­ments on this thread leave me feel­ing very doubt­ful of your abil­i­ty to build a coali­tion to pass I‑732 this fall.

  10. No one can (or should) claim to guar­an­tee rev­enue neu­tral­i­ty, and it’s noto­ri­ous­ly dif­fi­cult to cal­cu­late the effects of some­thing like this. Car­bon­WA points out a set of errors made by the state analy­sis that are unfor­tu­nate­ly rather arcane, but they make sense to me.

    You know, I was­n’t aware of this huge rift between the var­i­ous fac­tions until late Decem­ber. I live in East­ern Wash­ing­ton, where only some of the news makes over the moun­tains to us, and I still don’t get why there’s so much snip­ing going on. This prob­a­bly isn’t the place to explain it, but I wish I under­stood how it happened.

    Mean­while, I’ll wait patient­ly for Andrew, or any­one, to answer my ques­tions: What hap­pens next? What is the Alliance’s time­line? What will they do that will be bet­ter than what they are work­ing so hard to derail, and enough bet­ter that the lost time will be worthwhile?

  11. It is math­e­mat­i­cal­ly easy to guar­an­tee rev­enue neu­tral­i­ty, but polit­i­cal­ly chal­leng­ing. Just wait an appro­pri­ate amount of time (1 month?)for the late quar­ter­ly B&O and sales tax­es to be col­lect­ed. Then cal­cu­late the loss in tax rev­enue due to the Car­bon WA reduc­tions in the sales and B&O tax­es. Com­pare that num­ber to the amount of car­bon tax col­lect­ed that quar­ter. The remain­der is what would be dis­persed as the Work­ing Fam­i­lies mon­ey. As the car­bon tax rev­enue fluc­tu­ates from quar­ter to quar­ter, so would dis­tri­b­u­tions to Work­ing Fam­i­lies. And that would make it polit­i­cal­ly chal­leng­ing because the peo­ple most in need would­n’t have a sta­ble source of funds. 

    I am sure the Alliance won’t have an ini­tia­tive on the Novem­ber bal­lot because the polling shows that two sep­a­rate ini­tia­tives on the same bal­lot would guar­an­tee that both would fail. Big Oil would have a field day bash­ing both and total­ly con­fus­ing the unde­cid­ed voters.

  12. That’s a good point, Rich, although I’m not sure it’s pos­si­ble to use even one’s expect­ed Earned Income Tax Cred­it in finan­cial plan­ning, let alone the WFTR. 

    Tak­ing the time to read Car­bon­WA’s response to the state analy­sis (the third link at‑2/) is some­thing every­one with con­cerns over the rev­enue neu­tral­i­ty issue needs to do.

    Mean­while, I’ll wait patient­ly for Andrew, or any­one, to answer my ques­tions: What hap­pens next? What is the Alliance’s time­line? What will they do that will be bet­ter than what they are work­ing so hard to derail, and enough bet­ter that the lost time will be worthwhile?

  13. IMO this state par­ty deci­sion adds its fair share to the total mess ongo­ing in the WA effort to get car­bon pric­ing. I see it as a crash of two reck­less trains. All we will have to show for it is blood.

    1. The many Where­as is this res­o­lu­tion wrap a moral and maybe exis­ten­tial respon­si­bil­i­ty to act local­ly on cli­mate change in local issues of equi­ty, over­all tax pol­i­cy, and ideas of a just tran­si­tion, call­ing final­ly for a jus­tice over­sight board. It sub­sumes cli­mate action in the pro­gres­sive cause and cre­ates a NIMBY tem­plate for cli­mate action any­where that does not bun­dle pro­gres­sive require­ments. It fails to accept the physics of cli­mate change. 

    2. If Andrew does not address Ramez’s (Com­ment 1) claims of mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion he shows this is not a seri­ous dis­cus­sion of issues. IMO both Car­bon­wa and Alliance mem­bers have spun each oth­er’s posi­tions all through the fias­co. When is enough?

    3. Nei­ther side has made pub­lic the com­pro­mise posi­tion the Alliance offered, which Car­bon­wa reject­ed on Dec 23. IMO this was the last chance to stay upright. The pub­lic has a right to see this doc­u­ment. We are at the bloody start of a glob­al grass roots fight for car­bon pric­ing, there is a lot to think through, we need to see the facts, not just the spin of the Alliance lead groups.

    4. For Car­bon­wa sup­port­ers like Thad and Steve, who opposed the com­pro­mise in Decem­ber, it was clear then that state Dems and unions would oppose I‑732. Now they have. Lib­er­tar­i­ans & Repub­li­cans shrug or laugh. Who will be in your coali­tion? Why did you reject the com­pro­mise bill for this fight, this year, here?

    5. Camil­la (Com­ment 2), IMO the Wheras list requires study as well as blan­ket con­dem­na­tion. Unless it is con­test­ed in detail, among pro­gres­sives, won’t it block cli­mate physics-ori­ent­ed pro­gres­sive cli­mate action everywhere?

    Lar­ry Gussin

  14. It seems that sev­er­al of you who have com­ment­ed sim­ply did­n’t take the trou­ble to care­ful­ly read the post. This is advo­ca­cy jour­nal­ism, but even so, I stat­ed Car­bon­WA’s posi­tion repeat­ed­ly, and linked to their web­site, so that any­one read­ing could see what they had to say. 

    There are not one, not two, not three, but four links to posts and pages on Car­bon­WA’s web­site in this post. Any­one read­ing has the oppor­tu­ni­ty to click through and access their materials.

    The Alliance has­n’t decid­ed what it is doing next. We’d like to see them go to the bal­lot with an alter­na­tive to I‑732, but that may not happen.

  15. I’ve fought to defend Cal­i­for­ni­a’s cap-and-trade sys­tem from the oil com­pa­ny attempt to repeal it at the 2010 bal­lot. We smashed them. Now cap-and-trade is bring­ing in bil­lions of dol­lars per year in rev­enue to help reduce CO2 emis­sions and build green infra­struc­ture in the world’s 7th largest economy.

    We should be ral­ly­ing behind a cap-and-trade pro­pos­al for WA. The Alliance made sig­nif­i­cant polit­i­cal mis­takes here.

    But Car­bon­WA made even worse mis­takes, both in the pol­i­tics as well as in the actu­al pol­i­cy. At a time when our schools are under­fund­ed, cut­ting $1 bil­lion from the state bud­get is unfor­giv­able. Even if it were tru­ly a “rev­enue-neu­tral” plan, that would itself be bad, because as I point­ed out in my Sep­tem­ber 2015 post oppos­ing I‑732, many experts real­ize that we need rev­enue pos­i­tive car­bon pric­ing sys­tems. Mar­ket mech­a­nisms won’t reduce CO2, we need green infra­struc­ture and thus we need the rev­enue to buy it.

    We all know that Car­bon­WA lead­ers can read polls. They know as well as we do that I‑732 will go down in flames and set back the cli­mate action move­ment in this state for years. Their deci­sion to sub­mit the sig­na­tures was reck­less and damaging.

    Kudos to the Wash­ing­ton State Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty, the Wash­ing­ton State Labor Coun­cil, and all the oth­er groups that will soon be lin­ing up to kill this bad idea.

  16. I for­got to add in my com­ment (14) a reply to what Dan wrote in Com­ment 3. IMO it is very rea­son­able to advo­cate for the I‑732 mod­el over oth­er car­bon pric­ing mod­els. But to term it “orders of mag­ni­tude more mean­ing­ful than California’s AB32” shows either igno­rance of or dis­re­spect for the hard-fought and hard-pro­tect­ed vic­to­ry AB 32 rep­re­sents. Read the NRDC and EDF eval­u­a­tions. See how much of the CA econ­o­my it sub­jects to car­bon pric­ing. Com­pare the exten­sive coali­tion they built to what we so far have here.

  17. “Advo­ca­cy jour­nal­ism.” That would be the prob­lem, right there. We’re on Andrew’s blog, but I’m not going to sin­gle him out. He’s just one of too many who seem to be try­ing to win some kind of lit­tle game. If the base issue — cli­mate change — weren’t so impor­tant, it’d all be good fun. What has hap­pened is not fun.

    I was­n’t aware of the Alliance-Car­bon­WA trou­ble until about 5 weeks ago, and sud­den­ly it risks crash­ing the only thing, and a good thing at that, Wash­ing­ton’s go going in the cli­mate change department. 

    Car­bon­WA has a face: Yoram Bau­man. Some­one told me in Lyn­nwood that “he’s an ass.” That has­n’t been my expe­ri­ence, but why even care? Who is the face of the Alliance — their pup­pet­mas­ter, as it would seem? I have some words for that person.

    If I‑732 is doomed to fail, why not sup­port it, or just sit on your hands? By oppos­ing it with all the shady tricks of “advo­ca­cy jour­nal­ism” and back-room deals (and what hap­pened in Lyn­nwood was a back-room deal), when his­to­ry appor­tions blame for Wash­ing­ton bring­ing up the rear in cli­mate action, the Alliance will get the lion’s share.

    I’ll con­tin­ue to wait patient­ly for Andrew, or any­one, to answer my ques­tions: What hap­pens next? What is the Alliance’s time­line? What will they do that will be bet­ter than what they are work­ing so hard to derail, and enough bet­ter that the lost time will be worthwhile?

  18. Pol­i­tics isn’t a game to us, Steve. Here at the Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate (which is the voice of the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute as a whole) we com­ment on cur­rent events and pub­lic pol­i­cy. We’ve been doing it since March of 2004. And unlike oth­er pub­li­ca­tions, we don’t pre­tend to be objec­tive. The beau­ty of advo­ca­cy jour­nal­ism is that you can see where some­body stands. 

    We believe, as an orga­ni­za­tion, that Car­bon­WA’s approach is wrong, and we there­fore can­not sup­port I‑732. NPI Pres­i­dent Robert Cruick­shank and I have explained, in detail on numer­ous occa­sions, why we have come to that conclusion.

    We don’t make deci­sions for the Alliance. These are the folks who do, and you should direct your ques­tions to them.

    The Alliance for Jobs & Clean Ener­gy Steer­ing Committee

    • De’Sean Quinn | African Amer­i­can Community
    • Renee Klein | Amer­i­can Lung Asso­ci­a­tion of the Moun­tain Pacific
    • Tony Lee | Asian Pacif­ic Islander Coalition
    • Vlad Gut­man | Cli­mate Solutions
    • Aiko Schae­fer, Com­mu­ni­ties of Col­or for Cli­mate Justice
    • Ros­alin­da Guillen | Com­mu­ni­ty to Community
    • Cheri Cor­nell | CoolMom
    • LeeAnne Beres | Earth Ministry/Washington Inter­faith Pow­er & Light
    • Mark Liff­mann | Envi­ron­men­tal Entrepreneurs
    • Jill Man­gal­i­man | Got Green
    • Peter Bloch-Gar­cia | Lati­no Com­mu­ni­ty Fund
    • Per­ry Eng­land | MacDonald-Miller
    • Nan­cy Hirsh | North­west Ener­gy Coalition
    • Rich Stolz | OneAmerica
    • Rob­by Stern | Puget Sound Advo­cates for Retire­ment Action
    • Rebec­ca Sal­dana | Puget Sound Sage
    • Kel­ly Hall | Renew­able Northwest
    • Adam Glick­man | SEIU 775
    • Bill Arthur | Sier­ra Club
    • Rob John­son | Trans­porta­tion Choic­es Coalition
    • Daryl Williams | Tulalip Tribe
    • Jason Bar­bose | Union of Con­cerned Scientists
    • Sarah Cherin |UFCW 21
    • Bren­na Davis | Wash­ing­ton Busi­ness­es for Cli­mate Action
    • Mauri­cio Ayon | Wash­ing­ton Com­mu­ni­ty Action Network
    • Shan­non Mur­phy | Wash­ing­ton Con­ser­va­tion Voters
    • Becky Kel­ley | Wash­ing­ton Envi­ron­men­tal Council
    • Sarah Clifthorne | Wash­ing­ton Fed­er­a­tion of State Employees
    • Ken Lans | Wash­ing­ton Physi­cians for Social Responsibility
    • Jeff John­son | Wash­ing­ton State Labor Coun­cil, AFL-CIO

    I will send you the con­tact infor­ma­tion for the staff per­son who han­dles the Alliance’s business.

  19. Com­ment­ing on the pol­i­tics of the sit­u­a­tion, rather than the mer­its or demer­its of 732, this is a risky course for the state Dems and main­stream pro­gres­sive and envi­ro groups. There is already a sig­nif­i­cant dis­con­nect between the polit­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als and grass­roots activists. The pro­fes­sion­als mis­cal­cu­lat­ed the grass­roots urgency to get some­thing done on cli­mate, and so when the Inslee cli­mate bill failed had noth­ing to put in its place. Car­bon­WA lit­er­al­ly seized the ini­tia­tive and gen­uine­ly mobi­lized a move­ment. The pro­fes­sion­als fur­ther mis­cal­cu­lat­ed that a cam­paign that start­ed out with lim­it­ed fund­ing and a large­ly vol­un­teer base could not get enough sig­na­tures. Instead the cam­paign raised $600K and gath­ered 100,000 more sig­na­tures than need­ed. I think the par­ty and the groups risk a back­lash. It will cer­tain­ly feed an enthu­si­asm gap that could have impli­ca­tions in a close election.

  20. I want to add that 732 would not be my pre­ferred option. There is a strong point for invest­ing car­bon rev­enues in clean ener­gy and tran­si­tion from fos­sil fuels. The tragedy is that the gov­er­nor and the groups missed the boat. If they had believed enough in their ideas they should have had some­thing up, and Car­bon­WA would have pulled. But that did­n’t hap­pen, and it seems from that point this con­flict was baked in the cake.

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