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What Would the Washington State Carbon Fee Initiative Really Accomplish?

Very little carbon reduction, lots of political patronage.

CO2Abluecup/DreamstimeVoters in Washington State rejected an initiative in 2016 that would have created a carbon tax-and-rebate scheme. That initiative would have imposed a tax on carbon emitted from burning fossil fuels like gasoline, natural gas, and coal. None of the monies collected would have gone to the state government, but instead would have been rebated in the form of an annual check back to the citizens of the state. Proponents of the initiative crafted the tax plan with an eye toward attracting conservative voters with the promise that the state legislature and state bureaucracies would not be able to divert the tax monies away from the wallets of state residents.

The 2016 initiative failed, because it was opposed by most major environmental lobbyist groups (among other reasons). Why did environmental activists, who proclaim their deep concern over what they believe is the impending disaster of man-made global warming, oppose this effort to rein in carbon dioxide emissions? Because they didn't get a cut of the action.

Fast forward to today. On November 6, Washington State residents will have a chance to vote on a new Carbon Emissions Fee and Revenue Allocation Initiative, known as Initiative 1631. Under this initiative, the state would impose a "fee" on each ton of carbon dioxide emitted starting at $15 per ton in 2020, and rising each year by $2 until 2035, when it would reach $45 per ton. However, the initiative exempts major local industries with big export markets from the fee, including aircraft maker Boeing and aluminum smelter Alcoa, along with the Centralia coal-fired electric power plant, which is set to shut down in 2025. In would, however, apply to the state's five petroleum refineries.

Unlike the earlier proposal, this new initiative has the backing of most environmental lobbying groups. What's different? Instead of going back into the pocketbooks of citizens, this time the funds will be directed toward projects chosen by a new 15-member board of political appointees, over which environmental activist groups will exercise outsized influence. Seventy percent of the revenue is earmarked for renewable energy investment and public transit, 25 percent for water and forests, and 5 percent must go to communities both impacted by fossil fuels and those looking to transition away from them. It is estimated that the fee will generate $2.2 billion in revenues during its first five years.

How much would the fee cost Washingtonians? Environmentalist backers of the initiative lowball the costs at $10 a month for the average household. NERA Economic Consulting puts the worst-case annual cost at $440 for the average household in 2020, rising to over $900 in 2035. Rob Williams, a carbon pricing expert at Resources for the Future, told the Seattle Times that he estimates the cost per household at about $300 per year.

The battle over the carbon fee initiative is fierce. The Nature Conservancy, the League of Conservation Voters, Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer, and their allies have spent $15.2 million on the campaign. Opponents, led by the Western States Petroleum Association, have raised $31.2 million from oil companies and business groups to oppose the measure. A recent poll reports that 50 percent of voters approve of the initiative, 36 percent are opposed, and 14 percent are still undecided.

Climate change could become a significant problem for humanity as the century unfolds. So how much would Washington State's carbon fee impact this global commons problem? The state emits 76 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. The U.S. will emit about 5,260 million metric tons this year. If Washington State were to entirely eliminate its emissions, that would reduce U.S. emissions by 1.4 percent. Humanity emitted about 36,000 million metric tons last year. Entirely eliminating Washington State's contribution would reduce global emissions by 0.2 percent.

Washington State's actual goal is to reduce, by 2035, its emissions by 25 percent below their levels in 1990. It emitted about 88 million metric tons that year, so that implies a reduction of around 22 million tons by 2035. Assuming today's emissions, that would mean that Washington State's planned reductions would amount to 0.42 percent and 0.06 percent of U.S. and global emissions respectively.

One estimate by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency calculated that the impact of the carbon fee initiative would be the equivalent of removing about 200,000 cars from the roads between 2020 and 2035. An average American automobile emits about 4.6 tons of carbon dioxide annually. Assuming that is sustained, that would amount to reduction of just under 1 million tons of carbon dioxide annually; in other words, a negligible reduction with respect to the problem that it purports to help solve.

Of course, supporters will say that the journey of a billion tons begins with the first million; but given the earlier history one might be forgiven for thinking that the backers of the current proposal killed a more effective one in 2016 just because they wanted to get their hands on some fee revenues with which to pursue their pet projects and reward their political friends.

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  • Sevo||

    "What Would the Washington State Carbon Fee Initiative Really Accomplish?"

    Run industry out of the state?

  • BYODB||

    Texas says 'thanks', by the way.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    You're welcome.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    "Run industry out of the state?"

    Oh we're already hard at work on that one.

  • DrZ||

    "Run industry out of the state?"

    Well, that would solve their problem. By forcing CO2 producing industries to relocate, the state will look great w/r to their CO2 production.

    They won't look great for the masses that will flee the states for jobs as plants move out, but remember saving the environment from anthropogenic CO2 production is soooooo, sooooo important that loosing thousands of jobs is but a small price, even if it doesn't make any difference.

    Just think of the virtue-signally potential.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    "What Would the Washington State Carbon Fee Initiative Really Accomplish?"

    Squat?

  • BigT||

    Millions of years of indulgences!

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    The creation of a number of future 'superfund' sites, under the auspices of brain-proof enviroweenies?

    Seriously; these imbeciles love them some wind-farms...which are built with high-tech materials that are a stone bitch to dispose of when a turbine wears out. They love them some solar panels....which are made from highly toxic materials and have a short expected life, so where the hell do we dispose of THEM? They are giddy over electric cars....that run on extremely toxic batteries that have a boasted life of ten years, until you read the fine print and find that's even less realistic than MPG figures on gas guzzlers. They love paper recycling plants....which produce vast amounts of toxic waste to save trees that are grown as crops. They are more dangerous to the environment they claim to love than the consumer society they hate.

    All this over CO2, which is only a 'pollutant' in theor deranged minds. In the real world the CO2 levels in the atmosphere are barely above 'snowball Earth' levels, and much lower than several periods that were rampant with life.

    *spit*

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    More reasons to neuter and spay your progressives.

  • Echo Chamber||

    That is the unspoken requirement to address this issue.
    Having fewer carbon footprints running around would also lower emissions.

  • vek||

    Thankfully they're doing it themselves! Conservatives are above replacement rate in the USA, whereas progs are well below.

    Newer research has really honed in on the fact that MANY personality traits are heritable from your parents... Whatever suite of personality traits makes one a Prog seem to be inheritable too, because they've found a considerably stronger than random correlation between genetics and political philosophy, after adjusting for variables.

    The trend of leftists breeding considerably less than conservatives really picked up in the 60s and 70s, before that it was comparable. By the 90s it was a HUGE gap. This is perhaps one of the reasons that Generation Z is showing to be more conservative than any generation since the Greatest Generation, their parents all had the conservative genes!

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Good. Next, we need tos tart taking them to the pound.

  • No Longer Amused||

    It would accomplish 1) increased tax revenue for the general fund, 2) increased government regulation for no purpose

  • Remember to keep it all polit||

    No, not to the general fund. To cronies.

  • Don't look at me!||

    To cronies through the gender fund. You forgot the skim. The sweet sweet skim.
    Do you even politic bro?

  • Bronze Khopesh||

    What if you were in the Mexican food business and you served, say, 100,000 plates of tacos each year?

    What would your tacos al carbon carbon taxes be?

  • BigT||

    Billions due to the gas tax!

  • End Child Unemployment||

    We also have an initiative up for vote to legally define any semi-auto rifle as a "semiautomatic assault rifle", impose a 10 day waiting period, and require the state licensing agency to retain any applications approved and re background check them every year to see if anyone is no longer legally allowed to own weapons. You could just as easily order people convicted of felonies or committed to a mental institution by a court to surrender their weapons. The goal is to create a list of people who have evil black rifles, not to remove them from felons.

    All the people who moved up for the tech / Amazon boom are working as hard as they can to turn Washington into another California hellhole.

  • TangoDelta||

    Yeah but that's an easy one to get around. Do what everyone in Cali does and make one. Sure, now they want everyone to apply to the state to get a serial number if it didn't have one before July 1st but I'm pretty sure there will still be many that will turn out to have been made before July 1st. Heck, I'm pretty sure I may have made one a few years ago while visiting Cali even before I moved here.

    On a personal upside, I've already made my exit plans and should be free of the Cali-shackles by this time next year.

  • vek||

    Also, just go to a state where private sales with no background checks are legal... If you buy out of state, there's nothing in the new law saying you can't bring it home!

  • vek||

    Yeah, it's insane. You forgot my favorite part: Required classes, EVERY 5 YEARS, if you want to purchase a gun. So technically a retired Marine Corp general would have to go take a firearms class if he wanted to buy a gun... And if he wanted to buy another gun 6 years later, he'd have to do it again.

    I voted this one down, OBVIOUSLY, but I'm really hoping the fact that even many moderate leftists like guns will keep it from passing.

    In any event, I'm probably destined for Idaho before too long... Fuck this state. It's going to be a hell hole in 5-10 years for sure, so why wait until then to bail?

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    This kind of shot is why Atrumo should out chunks of CA under martial law.

  • Remember to keep it all polit||

    Back of the envelope stuff here .... one gallon of gas is roughly 5 pounds of carbon. $20/ton is one cent per pound, so this will raise the price of gasoline by 5 cents a gallon now, 10 cents in 2035.

    I wonder if the anti-campaigners mention that. "Raise your gasoline costs by 5 cents a pound, sent directly to a bunch of eco-freaks."

  • Uncle Jay||

    "What Would the Washington State Carbon Fee Initiative Really Accomplish?"
    This fee would liberate the masses from their excess capital they stole from the workers and redistributed in a fair and efficient manner to government bureaucrats, politicians and their cronies so our ruling elites and their friends can purchase their fourth luxury car, their much needed third vacation home in the Caymans and the always mandatory attendance at soirees in the Hamptons and Beverly Hills.
    This fee is a small price to pay for such the sacrifices our bureaucrats, politicians and their cronies they have made in making our beloved country into a nation of the rich and the poor while simultaneously and correctly eliminating the nefarious, cruel and parasitic bourgeois class from enlightened and socialist society.

  • Greg F||

    Climate change could become a significant problem for humanity as the century unfolds.


    The Holocene interglacial isn't going to last forever.

  • Moo Cow||

    I get inundated with fliers daily. I predict it fails. I am personally agnostic.

    The forces of YES can't seem to counter the arguments against very well. Example: Why is the one coal fired power plant exempt? Because it is in the process of being decommissioned, thats why. Makes some sense. But do ppl know?

    The appointed board, the "reserved spots for NA and labor, the hard coded requirements for spending the money, the focus on the four oil refineries (guess what? Someone has to refine the oil.) Etc.

    Just not real compelling.

  • mamabug||

    Plus the "anti" side has the best visual for a flyer what with the bar of cost going up year after year and all the call-outs to how it affects heating, transportation, etc.

    I predict it will fail. Tax increases in Washington only pass as initiatives if they can narrow the area voting so that the Seattle crazy equals or outweighs the rest of the populace.

  • BYODB||


    Rob Williams, a carbon pricing expert at Resources for the Future...


    Yep, a job like that is surely a sign of the end times.

  • El Oso||

    'Climate change could become a significant problem for humanity as the century unfolds.'

    On the other hand, Ronny could be mistaken, and AGW, aka CC, could be just another scam.

  • Ron Bailey||

    EO: I hope that I am.

  • Bob Meyer||

    The Vikings didn't die from heat prostration, nor did the Romans and neither had air conditioning.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    It is a scam. Their math is shit. The main driver of warming and cooling is so,air activity, which is improperly weighted in pretty much every currently accepted climate model. This is far from the only problem.

    It's also incredibly suspicious when the people that are boosters for AGW theory are also boosters for massive helpings of taxes, regulations, and socialism in general.

  • Pudgeboy||

    Well, Ron, since you don't understand the science, good thing the Huff Post told you to be worried.

  • Jerryskids||

    It is estimated that the fee will generate $2.2 billion in revenues during its first five years.

    Assuming today's emissions, that would mean that Washington State's planned reductions would amount to 0.42 percent and 0.06 percent of U.S. and global emissions respectively.

    So if I'm doing the math correctly here, $440 million per year for a .06% reduction in global emissions extrapolates to ~$750 billion for net carbon neutrality. If you ignore that marginal reductions in carbon emissions doubtlessly ramp up in cost fairly steeply the same way everything else does. (A rough rule of thumb - It takes 10% of your resources to do 50% of any given job, 50% of your resources to do 90% of the job and 100% of your resources to do 98% of the job. Finishing the last 2% of the job would require an infinite amount of resources, which is why "good enough" becomes the endpoint of the job.) Judging by that standard, a rough calculation suggests that even getting close to net carbon neutrality would run about $75 trillion, not coincidentally roughly the GWP of the planet. In other words, all that's required here is that all human beings cease all human activity. Mostly, cease breathing.

  • Bob Meyer||

    I've lived in Washington for over 20 years and you can actually watch people's IQ's collapse at election time. The Entity absorbs them, their eyes blank, their expressions listless as they become One with the Progressive Spirit. They make the Borg look like individualists.

    Governor Inbred has one passion in his life - to raise taxes. It's all he ever seems to want. He couldn't get an income tax (it's forbidden by the state constitution) so this is his plan B.

    The only thing that could stop this new tax would be if Trump came to Seattle and firmly endorsed it. You would see thousands of Washingtonians stagger around crying out "Norman...Coordinate" and be incapable of mailing in their ballots.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    I've lived in WA for over forty years of my life. This state was a lot better before all those CA people came up and ruined Seattle. Even Spokane is starting to get bad. More progtards infesting the city all the time.

  • MJBinAL||

    "Norman...Coordinate"

    Love the Star Trek reference...

  • vek||

    My family moved up here about 20 years ago. I hate to even admit it, but we're from California!

    The thing is, there are 2 kinds of people leaving California... The ones trying to get away from the stupid, and the ones trying to recreate the stupid! We're the good kind.

    Last of the Shitlords, do you live over in Spokane area? I'm thinking about moving there, or the ID side of that area. I visited last summer, and it seemed okay in that whole area. I hadn't been there in a long time, so wanted to see it as a proper adult.

    I could definitely see some proggie shit seeping out of some cracks, but looking at the voting records of recent elections, it is INFINITELY better than the lunacy in Seattle.

  • Fats of Fury||

    They could significantly cut their carbon emissions by expelling everyone from the state, no?

    An average American automobile emits about 4.6 tons of carbon dioxide annually.

    So carbon dioxide weight is greater than gasoline weight? I sure as hell don't pump 4.6 tons of gas into my car annually.
    Or are they factoring in those farting cows I carpool with?.

  • bvandyke||

    Yeah, 4.6 tons of carbon annually - somethings is way off. Did the math for our SUV at 20 mpg and 10,000 a year - 3000 lbs of gas. Physics says that you can't get more CO2 out of a gallon of gas than the gas its self.

  • bvandyke||

    update, according to the internet a gallon of gas burned generates up to 20 lbs of CO2 because of the oxygen it binds to. I'm not a chemist (nor even pretend to be one) here is the link

    Link

  • bvandyke||

    update, according to the internet a gallon of gas burned generates up to 20 lbs of CO2 because of the oxygen it binds to. I'm not a chemist (nor even pretend to be one) here is the link

    Link

  • zaphod||

    An unelected board with no solid guidelines on how to spend a billion dollars a year. What could possibly go wrong?

  • شركة نقل عفشء||

    Afsh Babha Transport Company is one of the best moving companies in the city of Abha with a large discounts for customers. Furniture moved her door

  • loki||

    Keep squeezing that sweet, sweet cash out of those insolent peasants.

  • prolefeed||

    Assuming today's emissions, that would mean that Washington State's planned reductions would amount to 0.42 percent and 0.06 percent of U.S. and global emissions respectively.

    Population of WA state: 7.3 million

    Population of world: 7.7 billion

    Sooo, 0.09% of the world's population is going to cut back their energy use enough to reduce global CO2 emissions by 0.06%? That makes no fucking sense.

    Oh, and if they do somehow crater their economy enough to achieve that statewide goal, then the rest of the fucking world would make the stuff they quit making, because people aren't gonna quit wanting shit just cause some progs went batshit insane in the Pac NW, increasing global CO2 emissions by, an additional 0.07% or so (cause Chinese coal plants emit more CO2 per energy unit than anything in WA state).

    So, best case scenario? Cratered economy in WA state and MORE CO2 (which, P.S. is plant food).

    Good job, WA voters!

    TX thanks you.

  • vek||

    Yeah, I was noticing how we're a lower percentage of the population versus carbon output for the USA too. I suspect that's because some states like Texas or wherever that do a lot of oil related stuff probably kick out more, same with manufacturing states, etc. ALSO we get most of our electrical from hydro here, which makes our home and industrial electricity carbon output really low.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    When you index carbon emissions against GDP, the US comes out pretty well.

  • DrZ||

    I have a better idea. Replace a few coal or gas fired generator plants with nuclear fission generators.
    There, problem solved.

  • vek||

    I voted this shit DOWN, obviously.

    I hope to hell the idiot progs who have moved to this state haven't infected it enough to where it will pass this time. Washington seems to have JUST tipped the edge where the crazy leftists can start passing every nonsense thing they want. Until literally the last election cycle the rest of the state could offset Seattle... But I think those days are gone.

    I'm even more worried about the new gun law. It has INSANE stuff in it. We're going to go from being a decent state to one of the worst in the nation overnight if it passes. 10 years ago we were one of the very best in the whole country... It's insane how fast things can slide down hill when the prog infestation goes past that 50% mark...

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    If this passe, I will call for our president to put King, Pierce, amd Snohomish counties under martial law until we can finally straighten out the progtards.

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