Carbon Tax Update

Summer and Akua and I have been working so hard on the policy side of our campaign, but we’ve been making great progress and in fact are happy to announce the following campaign deliverables that we will finish by the end of the summer:

1) We will create a carbon tax swap calculator that will allow Washington residents to enter a bit of information (zip code, household size, household income, etc.) and get an estimate of how much they will pay in carbon taxes, how much they will save in sales taxes, etc. The calculator tool will also include a Sankey diagram to provide an overview of our carbon tax swap policy.

2) We will complete an in-depth exploration of policy and legal alternatives, including actual ballot language from the Secretary of State’s office (as for example in the ballot language we got last month).

Stay tuned for more on all of this—and deliverables from other facets of the campaign—and if you’re keen on helping us work on either or both of these policy/legal fronts please let me know. (In particular: We are looking for an Olympia-based lawyer who is willing to file paperwork for us as needed in the months ahead. Nothing right now, and no actual involvement in litigation or anything—although we can talk about that too!—but for starters we would like to have a physical presence in Olympia in case we need to file things in person. If that’s you please holler!)

And to round out this email:

* Events: I’ll be doing a bit of comedy and talking carbon taxes at the Thurston County Progressive Network annual picnic and candidate forum on July 13.

* Past events: Last week Alex Lenferna, Vivian Weber, and I attended Governor Inslee’s Climate Taskforce meeting. The good news is that, as promised, there was a presentation on the BC carbon tax as well as on the CA cap-and-trade system. (Good summaries of both of these policies can be found via posts #1 and #4 on this Sightline carbon pricing blog series). The bad news is that the governor’s office has a clear preference for cap-and-trade. Here are comments from Alex Lenferna: “The governor’s office says they lean towards cap and trade because it offers certainty [of emissions limits], flexibility and linkage. While cap and trade can arguably deliver better on certainty, it’s not clear to me that it can deliver better on the other two. On the flexibility front it is clear that a carbon tax would deliver much better, as it puts a price on carbon and allows the market to decide how it wants to react, whereas a cap and trade the government has a much more active role in deciding who gets permits and how reductions must be made – often involving handing out free pollution permits to polluting industries, which grandfathers in dirty industries. With regards to linkage, while Washington could link up to California through a cap and trade, a tax on carbon also provide linkage to BC, and perhaps it makes more sense to link up to our neighbors. Plus linking up with a price on carbon is much easier than linking up to California’s rather complex system.”

Also in the good news/bad news camp is my report from the Seattle Chamber / WA Clean Tech Alliance lunch panel on cap-and-trade. The good news is that Senator Doug Ericksen (R-Bellingham/Ferndale) said he preferred carbon taxes to cap-and-trade; the bad news is that he said the choice was like asking him if he wanted to jump off the cliff to the left or the cliff to the right. Sen Ericksen also ducked a question about whether he thought climate change was a problem, which in my view matched up quite well with fellow panelist Susan Frank ducking a question about whether cap-and-trade would raise gas prices.

* Readings: I recommend “B.C. put a price on carbon. What happened next will surprise you” and “Climate campaign can’t be deaf to economic worries, Obama warns”. And if you really want to get into the weeds on the Obama EPA power plant rule, the Georgetown Climate Center has lots of info on section 111(d) and more 🙂

As always, comments welcome on the blog!

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