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Washington State Carbon Tax Initiative Loses

Did voters recognize it as a green pork-barrel scheme?

CarbonTaxChuongyDreamstimeChuongy/DreamstimeVoters in Washington State have soundly rejected—54 to 46 percent—the Carbon Emissions Fee and Revenue Allocation Initiative, a.k.a. Initiative 1631. Championed by a coalition of environmentalist and otherwise progressive activists to address the problem of man-made global warming, the initiative would have imposed a $15 per ton fee on emissions of carbon dioxide starting in 2020, increasing by $2 per ton until 2035. The levy would have raised more than $2 billion in its first five years. The monies collected would have been distributed by a board of political appointees to fund renewable energy, public transit, and various conservation projects.

Initiative 1631 did garner a higher percentage of the votes than the 2016 carbon-tax-and-rebate 732 Initiative, which was defeated 59 to 41 percent. Many of the activists who supported the 2018 carbon tax inititiative were opposed to the 2016 carbon tax proposal. Why the difference? After all, both initiatives aimed at reducing the emissions of carbon dioxide that are contributing to man-made global warming.

The answer: Unlike Initiative 1631, Initiative 732 was designed to neither increase nor decrease state revenues. That meant that there was no kitty of new tax money available for the politically favored groups to shower on their pet projects. Instead, Initiative 732 would have lowered the state sales tax from 6.5 to 5.5 percent, increased the Working Families Tax Credit for low-income families, and reduced the business and occupation tax rate from 0.484 to 0.001 percent.

A carbon tax by itself would encourage folks to move toward buying and using lower-carbon energy technologies and services without the need for government agencies to "invest" tax dollars in politically favored green projects. When you tally up the reasons that 1631 failed, consider the possibility that many voters recognized that it would hike their utility and gasoline bills to fill a green pork barrel.

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  • DiegoF||

    When you tally up the reasons that 1631 failed, consider the possibility that many voters recognized that it would hike their utility and gasoline bills to fill a green pork barrel.

    Wait; if the old "good" carbon tax did considerably worse with voters than the new "pork barrel" one, how is that a particularly likely possibility?

  • vek||

    Demographic changes. A bajillion more progtards have poured into Seattle since then, and a lot of sane people like me have left. I will be abandoning the western side of the state AT LEAST in the next year or two... If not moving out of state altogether.

  • Ron Bailey||

    DF: Coalitional politics - Progressives and environmental activists actually pushed for the new one and so managed to get a whole extra 5 percent or so.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Ron, been getting a lot of these in my feed recently for some reason. Lot of good, sober analysis of global warming, CO2's role in the warming effect, observed sea rise vs models, vs long term historical trends.

    Here's a video on Germany's Green Revolution discussed by Professor Fritz Vahrenholt of Hamburg University and how the carbon reduction schemes actually benefit and subsidize wealthy property owners to little or no effect on carbon reduction.

    Here's a talk by a group of climate scientists and geophysicists on the issue with IPCC and HADCRUT data.

    They're all long-form viewing and I recommend you take a look.

  • Sevo||

    "The monies collected would have been distributed by a board of political appointees to fund renewable energy, public transit, and various conservation projects."

    Translation:
    The money would have been used to buy votes.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    ""consider the possibility that many voters recognized that it would hike their utility and gasoline bills to fill a green pork barrel."'

    I don't think they have a problem with green pork barrel spending but they expect someone else to pay for it.

    .

  • mamabug||

    While I wish people had rejected it for that reason, in all likelihood that had little to do with it. This vote was simply a reflection of the division between the hip, urban 'Seattle' (and associated retirement communities of) voters and every other damn person in the state wrt taxes.

    If you break the vote down by county, the three predictably democratic counties (King, Jefferson, and San Juan) are the inverse of the results. The counties with evenly divided rural/urban populations broke only slightly against it and the measure was overwhelmingly unpopular (75%+) everywhere else.

    The other two measures involving taxation had nearly identical results with 54.78% voting to prevent local incarnations of the soda tax and 52.98% voted to repeal some tax extension the legislature made that nobody really understand. All this in a state that broke about 60-40 democrat at the national level.

  • vek||

    Living in Seattle, I looked at a LOT of county break downs for various things.

    I'm thinking about the Spokane area... But a few horrible things passed there in the county overall. I hate that basically every decent sized city is shit lib central. I don't quite feel like moving to a small town yet at this stage of my life, but that Idaho side of the border in that region sure is tempting...

  • PCOBorys||

    The groups opposed to this initiative did a good job pointing out its serious weakness. Even the hard-core environmentalists could not ignore that 8 of the 12 largest polluters in the state were exempted. Yet, somehow 46% voted for this expensive gift to special interest.

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