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Thursday, April 25, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Election Center

Initiative 732, carbon emission tax

Washington voters will decide whether to approve the nation’s first carbon tax in November, a measure supporters say would help the state cut greenhouse gas emissions and set precedent for a national climate policy.
But I-732 has failed to gain support from some of the groups that would typically back efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Both the state’s Democratic Party and the Sierra Club have opposed the initiative, saying it isn’t the right approach to climate policy.
Business and labor groups also are lobbying against it, saying I-732 would be a “job killer” that would shift employment to other states and countries.
The proposal is modeled after a similar carbon tax in British Columbia. Supporters say it is a fair, market-driven approach to reducing carbon emissions, spreading costs across both households and businesses. Supporters also dispute Kaiser’s position that the initiative would reduce the company’s global competitiveness. Supporters describe the initiative as a “tax shift” that raises the cost of carbon but mitigates the effect on manufacturers and Washington families, who would pay more for gasoline, heating fuel and electricity.
Under I-732, each ton of carbon produced in Washington would be taxed by $15 beginning in July 2017. The tax would increase to $25 per ton the next year, and would rise annually until it hits a maximum of $100 per ton.
Washington residents would see a 1 percentage point drop in the state’s sales tax over two years if the initiative is approved and manufacturers paying the new carbon tax would get a break on the state’s business and occupation tax, though some business leaders have said the cut in the B&O tax would not be enough to cover the new carbon tax.

Election results

Option Votes Pct
No 1,634,291 59.26%
Yes 1,123,568 40.74%

Related coverage

A reluctant no on Initiative 732

Initiative 732 proposes a carbon tax and frames it as an economist would: If you want less of something, tax it. So it taxes carbon and lowers the sales tax to achieve a roughly revenue-neutral result. As a result, carbon would finally have a price, which would temper its use and make energy alternatives more competitive, and the state could become a model for lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Consumers would see the tax at gas pumps and in their power bills. They’d get a break of 1 percentage point in the state sales tax.

Dan Wilson and Kyle England: Initiative 732’s carbon tax hurts families, small businesses

The more taxes we pile on businesses, the more likely we are to see them head east to Idaho or states with far fewer restrictions on carbon emissions.

John Covert: Time to take bold climate action with Initiative 732

The cost of doing nothing outweighs any cost of implementing I-732. The state’s own estimates

Elway poll: Voters split on November intiatives

Three of six ballot initiatives in the November election would fail if voting were held today, a new poll suggests.

Editorial: Editorial Roundup: Carbon pricing becomes scrambled

The Legislature should put an alternative to I-732 on the ballot to fix an inadvertent flaw.

Ed Mahlum and Joe Ryan: Carbon tax is best climate change solution

By establishing a carbon tax and lowering the sales tax, Washington state can be at the forefront of addressing the long-term consequences of climate change.

Carbon tax initiative headed for Legislature

Supporters of a carbon tax say they have enough signatures to send Initiative 732 to the Legislature next year.