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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.

Friday, July 21st, 2017

Voters in Washington are enthusiastic about putting a price on pollution, NPI poll finds

Nearly three in five Washington voters agree it’s time for the state to put a price on pollution to fund a socially responsible transition to clean energy, according to a survey conducted last month by Public Policy Polling for NPI.

59% of likely 2018 voters surveyed agree that Washington State should reduce emissions of air pollutants like carbon dioxide and methane by levying a pollution tax and using the revenue raised to invest in electric transportation infrastructure and renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and geothermal.

40% disagreed, while 1% were not sure.

Respondents were asked:

Washington State has committed to meeting the goals of the Paris climate accords as a participant of the recently-formed United States Climate Alliance. Do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree or strongly disagree with the following statement: Washington State should levy a tax on pollution to fund projects that would reduce harmful emissions plus accelerate our transition to electric vehicles and renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and geothermal?

Answers were as follows:

  • Agree: 59%
    • Strongly agree: 43%
    • Somewhat agree: 16%
  • Disagree: 40%
    • Somewhat disagree: 12%
    • Strongly disagree: 28%
  • Not sure: 1%

The intensity of support rises with younger voters, who will be grappling with the consequences of climate damage for the rest of their lives.

Notably, 51% of respondents between the ages of eighteen and forty-five strongly agree that the state should levy a pollution tax.

Washingtonians are increasingly enthusiastic about putting a price on pollution. There’s a widespread appreciation that pollution negatively impacts all of us in far-reaching ways. It’s damaging our climate and it’s detrimental to our health.

We know that we need to invest in a socially responsible, just transition to a clean energy economy. What better way to do that than through a tax on pollution?

In 2016, Washington voters rejected CarbonWA’s I-732, an initiative that would have instituted a pollution tax, but used the revenue to cut other taxes instead of investing in clean energy infrastructure.

Advance polling by FM3 for the Alliance for Jobs & Clean Energy found support for I-732’s ballot title at around 39% prior to the campaign, suggesting dim prospects. The measure ultimately received 40.75% of the vote statewide.

Efforts are underway to give Washingtonians the opportunity to vote on putting a price on pollution in 2018 if the Washington State Legislature does not act first.

The body of research available leads us to conclude most Washingtonians want a pollution tax that enables and accelerates a socially responsible, just transition away from fossil fuels as opposed to engineering a tax swap.

No one should be left behind. We have an opportunity to build a more inclusive economy as we undertake this transition, and we should not squander that opportunity. By investing the revenue from a pollution tax into things we need — like electric transportation infrastructure and solar, wind, and geothermal energy — we can raise the quality of life for all Washingtonians.

NPI’s survey of 887 likely 2018 Washington State voters was in the field from June 27th-28th, 2017; all respondents participated via landline. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.3% at the 95% confidence level.

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