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.

Saturday, March 3rd, 2018

Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy files initiative to put a price on pollution in 2018

Fol­low­ing the Leg­is­la­ture’s fail­ure to reach agree­ment on a plan to put a price on pol­lu­tion in Wash­ing­ton State, the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Ener­gy (of which NPI is a mem­ber) has announced that it is mov­ing for­ward with plans to qual­i­fy an ini­tia­tive to the Novem­ber bal­lot that would impose a fee on emis­sions.

“Today, diverse con­stituen­cies across the state rep­re­sent­ing work­ing fam­i­lies, com­mu­ni­ties of col­or, envi­ron­men­tal and clean ener­gy advo­cates, health pro­fes­sion­als, busi­ness­es, and faith orga­ni­za­tions have joint­ly filed an ini­tia­tive to pro­tect Washington’s land, air, and water and move us towards a strong, healthy clean ener­gy econ­o­my,” said Alliance lead­ers in a state­ment.

“This ini­tia­tive is Washington’s chance for all of us to have a share in a clean­er health­i­er future and build a bet­ter econ­o­my that works for every­one,” the state­ment went on to explain. “It would invest in clean ener­gy infra­struc­ture like wind and solar, healthy forests, and clean water, cre­at­ing thou­sands of good pay­ing jobs across the state while cut­ting pol­lu­tion.”

“Today’s action is a first step towards putting an ini­tia­tive on the bal­lot in Novem­ber. Wash­ing­ton com­mu­ni­ties thrive when they have clean air to breathe, safe water to drink, and an econ­o­my root­ed in sus­tain­able local jobs.”

“This is a state where diverse com­mu­ni­ties and busi­ness­es, large and small, take respon­si­bil­i­ty to care for our health and envi­ron­ment.”

“From the air we breathe to wors­en­ing fires and floods, we know pol­lu­tion and cli­mate change affect us every day. Dirty ener­gy has hurt our health and our cli­mate for years and it’s time to start clean­ing up the mess. Wash­ing­ton vot­ers, com­mu­ni­ties, and busi­ness­es are demand­ing strong and effec­tive action on cli­mate pol­lu­tion and today’s fil­ing starts the process for the peo­ple of Wash­ing­ton to act.”

NPI research sug­gests the peo­ple of Wash­ing­ton are ready to act.

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 June 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 ques­tion we asked Wash­ing­ton vot­ers to respond to last June is essen­tial­ly the Alliance’s desired pol­i­cy in a nut­shell. All respon­dents par­tic­i­pat­ed by land­line, so we think the result may under­state the actu­al lev­el of sup­port for this idea.

(Many peo­ple no longer have land­lines — this is espe­cial­ly true of mil­len­ni­als. We found that a major­i­ty of vot­ers from ages eigh­teen through forty-five strong­ly agree with the idea of putting a price on pol­lu­tion to raise mon­ey for a just tran­si­tion to a clean ener­gy future, com­pared to 43% over­all.)

Tech­ni­cal­ly speak­ing, the Alliance has opt­ed to make its pol­lu­tion price a fee as opposed to a tax. The objec­tive is to ensure that the rev­enue it rais­es goes to projects and pri­or­i­ties that will reduce our depen­dence on fos­sil fuels. This way, the rev­enue the ini­tia­tive rais­es goes to its intend­ed pur­pose.

NPI sup­ports going to the bal­lot this year with the kind of pol­i­cy the Alliance has been dis­cussing and devel­op­ing these past few years. We actu­al­ly want­ed to see the Alliance qual­i­fy a mea­sure to the 2016 bal­lot that would have pro­vid­ed vot­ers with an alter­na­tive to I‑732. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, that did not hap­pen.

Here is a sum­ma­ry of the ini­tia­tive pro­vid­ed by the Alliance.

Summary of the Protect Washington Act

Intent

The intent of this act is to pro­tect Wash­ing­ton for our chil­dren, our grand­chil­dren, and future gen­er­a­tions by quick­ly and effec­tive­ly reduc­ing pol­lu­tion and address­ing its neg­a­tive impacts.

Invest­ments to Clean Up Pol­lu­tion

Invest­ments will accel­er­ate Wash­ing­ton State’s tran­si­tion to clean ener­gy, increase the resilien­cy of the state’s waters and forests to the impacts of cli­mate change, and reduce the impacts of cli­mate change on com­mu­ni­ties.

  • 70% to Clean Air and Clean Ener­gy
    • Invest­ments in job-cre­at­ing projects and invest­ments that yield ver­i­fi­able reduc­tions in car­bon [diox­ide] pol­lu­tion, includ­ing solar, wind and oth­er renew­able ener­gy; clean trans­porta­tion options; ener­gy effi­cien­cy; car­bon seques­tra­tion in nat­ur­al resources like for­est, farm and marine land­scapes.
    • A min­i­mum of 15% of the account will assist low-income res­i­dents in the tran­si­tion to a clean ener­gy econ­o­my.
    • Income, ben­e­fit, retrain­ing, and relo­ca­tion sup­port for fos­sil fuel work­ers that are affect­ed by the tran­si­tion to a clean ener­gy econ­o­my.
  • 25% to Clean Water and Healthy Forests
    • Invest­ments to increase the resilien­cy of the state’s waters and forests to the impacts of cli­mate change, includ­ing:
    • Restore and pro­tect estu­ar­ies, fish­eries and marine shore­line habi­tats; pre­pare for sea lev­el rise; address ocean acid­i­fi­ca­tion; reduce flood risk; increase sus­tain­able sup­ply of water; and improve infra­struc­ture for treat­ing stormwa­ter, improve resilience to wild­fires, improve for­est health and reduce vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty to insect infes­ta­tion.
  • 5% to Healthy Com­mu­ni­ties
    • Invest­ments to pre­pare com­mu­ni­ties for chal­lenges caused by cli­mate change and to ensure that the impacts of cli­mate change are not dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly borne by cer­tain pop­u­la­tions, includ­ing: enhanc­ing com­mu­ni­ty pre­pared­ness and aware­ness around wild­fires; fire sup­pres­sion for trib­al com­mu­ni­ties; relo­ca­tion of trib­al com­mu­ni­ties impact­ed by sea lev­el rise; edu­ca­tion pro­grams to expand aware­ness of the impacts of cli­mate change; and com­mu­ni­ty capac­i­ty grants.
  • Of the above, a min­i­mum of ten per­cent of state expen­di­tures must be used for projects endorsed by the gov­ern­ing body of a fed­er­al­ly rec­og­nized tribe.

Fee on Pol­lu­tion

A pol­lu­tion reduc­tion fee will be levied and col­lect­ed on large emit­ters based on the car­bon con­tent of fos­sil fuels and elec­tric­i­ty, includ­ing import­ed elec­tric­i­ty, sold or used with­in this state.

Begin­ning Jan­u­ary 1, 2020, the fee is equal to $15.00 per met­ric ton of car­bon con­tent. Begin­ning Jan­u­ary 1, 2021, the fee increas­es by $2.00 per year until the state’s 2035 green­house gas reduc­tion goal is met and the state’s emis­sions are on a tra­jec­to­ry that indi­cates that com­pli­ance with the state’s 2050 goal is like­ly.

In order to pre­vent emis­sions and jobs leak­age out of state, fos­sil fuel and elec­tric­i­ty sold to and used by ener­gy-inten­sive and trade-exposed busi­ness­es will be exempt from the fee.

Pol­lu­tion and Health Action Areas

In order to mit­i­gate the effects of pol­lu­tion and the health impacts of cli­mate change on high­ly- impact­ed com­mu­ni­ties, the Depart­ment of Health shall des­ig­nate pol­lu­tion and health action areas.

A min­i­mum of 35 per­cent of state expen­di­tures must be used for invest­ments that pro­vide direct, mean­ing­ful, and assured ben­e­fits to pol­lu­tion and health action areas with a min­i­mum of ten per­cent of state expen­di­tures being locat­ed in these com­mu­ni­ties.

Pub­lic Over­sight and Gov­ern­ment Account­abil­i­ty

A Pub­lic Over­sight Board will over­see the imple­men­ta­tion of this ini­tia­tive, sup­port­ed by invest­ment pan­els that will rec­om­mend effec­tive, effi­cient invest­ments to meet the goals of the Act.

The Joint Leg­isla­tive Audit and Review Com­mit­tee and the Over­sight board shall review and report on the time­li­ness, effi­cien­cy and effec­tive­ness of imple­men­ta­tion of the Act.

The ini­tia­tive has not yet received a num­ber or a bal­lot title, but will soon. After the bal­lot title is final­ized, the Alliance intends to launch a sig­na­ture dri­ve to col­lect 350,000+ sig­na­tures and rebrand itself as the “Yes on Ini­tia­tive XXXX” cam­paign.

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One Comment

  1. When will peti­tions be avail­able?

    # by Yogendra Raja :: March 4th, 2018 at 1:40 AM