While opponents argue against Inslee’s carbon tax, if we truly consider the externalities of carbon emissions, the real question is “How can we not afford it?”
Yes, as proposed the tax is expected to raise consumer prices 6-9 percent at the pump, 4-5 percent for electricity, and 9-11 percent for natural gas. Yet, these increases are modest in comparison to the social costs emissions impose across all sectors. Consider a “sampling” of water supply impacts alone. UW’s Climate Impacts Group projects increased frequency of water shortage years, inadequate summer electricity and substantial declines in salmon and trout population. And a word of warning to Spokane-area skiers: warm, low snow pack winters are expected to occur much more often.
Critics sarcastically claim that a carbon tax is a “great idea for job creation and attracting new business.” In truth, yes, it is great for job creation and attracting new businesses. To start, see assessments from the Brookings Institute which indicate carbon tax revenue will “simulate investment” and “spark job creation.”
Donald Trump has eliminated the possibility of a globally-uniform carbon tax, leaving it up to the states. Our Canadian neighbors could use some help. Washington should lead the way.