New ballot language for the Carbon Tax initiative

We just got the ballot language back from a test-run initiative we filed last month. The full text of the initiative is here, or you can track it all down from the Secretary of State’s website, but here’s the ballot language as written by the Secretary of State’s office: “Statement of subject: Initiative Measure No. 1359 concerns taxes. Concise description: This measure would impose a tax, with exceptions, on fossil fuels, phase in a one percentage-point sales tax reduction, eliminate business and occupation taxes for manufacturers, and increase or eliminate certain tax preferences. Ballot measure summary: This measure would tax, with exceptions, the carbon content of fossil fuels extracted or manufactured in, or introduced into, Washington, including fossil fuels used to generate electricity. Taxes would be $15 per metric ton of carbon dioxide in 2015, $25 per ton in 2016, increasing 5% annually thereafter. The measure would reduce state sales tax by 1% by 2016, eliminate business and occupation taxes for manufacturers, increase certain tax preferences, and eliminate two tax preferences.”

CarbonWA legal advisor Bill Appel continues to help us iron out our legal language and is digging into some of the puzzles about the new ballot language, but we’re making good progress in a key area that we fell short on last year! (Comments welcome on the blog, but please note that we do not get to write the ballot language: we submit the full text of the initiative and then then Secretary of State writes the ballot language; yes we can sue, but a better option is usually to tweak the full text in order to generate changes in the ballot language.)

* Events: On T June 24 the governor’s CERT climate taskforce will be meeting in downtown Seattle to “discuss initial policy design options”… and I’m happy to report that they’ll be hearing from experts on both the BC carbon tax and the CA cap-and-trade system. (The CERT meetings are open to the public but there is no opportunity for public comment; it’s from 10am-1pm at the EPA Region 10 office, 1200 6th Ave.)

* You can help: If you can take good notes and want to go to the CERT meeting please let me know. And if you’ve been waiting to make a donation then you can test out our fancy new Donate button:

* Readings: I recommend “Now is the time for a Washington carbon plan” in the Olympian by Eric Berman and Jeremy Stone. On the new Obama climate regulations, I think the best (and shortest!) read is Michael Levi’s analysis that it’s approximately like a $10 carbon tax. (More readings include “In praise of second best” and “Obama’s green gamble” in the Economist; a long discussion of carbon pricing in the NY Times, which also goes into law, economics, and a comparison with health care; also more on coal and coal jobs. And I think this from the tea-party folks at RedState is thought-provoking.) Finally, for a good overview of carbon pricing that covers both carbon taxes and cap-and-trade systems, I’ll be immodest enough to suggest the chapter from my Cartoon Climate book as excerpted on the PBS NewsHour blog.

I have been trying hard to get news on how the new EPA regulations affect state-level carbon-pricing efforts, but so far all I hear is that the EPA makes it very clear that cap-and-trade is allowed; carbon taxes are a bit less clear but there’s hope that the uncertainty will get cleared up in the next year before the rule goes into effect (or gets held up in court). Until then, here’s two good pieces from 2 weeks ago from EarthFix, one republished in the Grant County Blue Mountain Eagle (“Federal rules on CO2 emissions to bolster action in the Northwest”); the other piece is an Ashley Ahearn radio interview of yours truly. And for the optimistic reading of the week, try “Democrats see winning issue in carbon plan” from the NY Times.

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