Coal, Executive Insight, Generation

VIDEO: Carbon tax goes down to defeat in Washington State

A backer of a ballot initiative, Initiative 732, in Washington State that would have placed a first-time carbon tax on industrial emissions on Nov. 9 conceded that the initiative lost on the Nov. 8 ballot.

“Grassroots activism accomplished what many environmental leaders and media pundits said was impossible: we put a revenue-neutral carbon tax on the ballot,” said Yoram Bauman, founder and co-chair of Carbon Washington. “While we did not pass the nation’s first carbon tax, many states around the country are looking at I-732 as a model and we expect a nationwide movement to take root in the years ahead. We will look back at this as a lost opportunity to create history in Washington State, but also as a catalyst for much needed U.S. leadership on climate action.”

“We deeply appreciate the efforts of our staff and hundreds of volunteers who collected over 360,000 signatures to get I-732 on the ballot last December, and who continued the momentum until polls closed tonight,” said Kyle Murphy, co-director of the Yes on 732 campaign.

“Carbon Washington will continue as an organization,” said Joe Ryan, co-chair of Carbon Washington. “Our grassroots base is our strength. We are energized to continue our work on carbon pricing in the state legislature, and to promote effective, equitable, economically sound and politically viable carbon pricing in other states and in Washington, D.C.”

The group noted that in addition to endorsements from dozens of Democratic leaders and organizations, I-732 received endorsements from three sitting Republican state senators, from former Attorney General Rob McKenna, from former U.S. Senator Slade Gorton, and from former state Senate majority leader Bill Finkbeiner. Preliminary results show the ballot measure being defeated on a 58 percent no vote.

Carbon Washington said the majority of spending in support of the campaign against the initiative came from parties like the out-of-state American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers ($250,000), from out-of-state Koch Industries ($50,000), from coal-dependent utility Puget Sound Energy ($125,000) and from TransAlta ($15,000), the owner of the coal-fired Centralia power plant in Washington.

Carbon Washington is a non-partisan grassroots group of scientists, economists, former elected officials, business owners, and concerned citizens focused on seeking a solution to climate change that works for businesses and households around the state.