Steven Mufson Journalist on Energy and Other Financial Issues October 28 at 10:00 am The bride was asthmatic. Seattle's scenic skyline – the perfect backdrop for photographs – was covered with forest fires. And Perfectly Posh Events, the wedding planner, had to fight for a covered spot in the middle of the summer, usually the best time of the year for an outdoor greeting exchange. "I have lived in Seattle all my life. I do not remember growing up with that, "said Holly Olsen, owner of the company. "It's clear that a change has occurred." What happened is climate change. It contributed to the dry conditions that fueled the forest fires, smothering Seattle's city this year. It has changed the acidity of the oceans and damaged oyster beds in the Puget Sound in Seattle. And now, climate change has made its way into the November 6 vote, in the form of a state-wide initiative that would impose a $ 15 per tonne tax on emissions. carbon that causes global warming. If this measure were adopted, Washington would become the first state in the country to tax carbon dioxide, the most widespread greenhouse gas. The campaign sparked a fight for votes between big oil refiners and a coalition of environmental groups, unions, Native groups, communities of color, and liberal business leaders like Bill Gates and Governor Jay Inslee. D). The battle has already set a new Washington state record for voting expenses. Nearly $ 14.8 million, including one million each from Gates and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, raised nearly $ 14.8 million on behalf of the Clean Air Clean Energy coalition. Major oil companies owned by the Western States Petroleum Association – including Koch Industries – donated $ 26.2 million, according to the state's public disclosure commission.
A fan enters the Seattle Mariners stadium with a mask to protect himself from the smoky clouds before a baseball game against the Houston Astros on Monday, August 20, 2018 in Seattle. Wildfire smoke clogged the sky in the western United States, sweeping mountains and skylines from Oregon to Colorado, delaying flights and forcing authorities to tell healthy adults in the region from Seattle to stay indoors. (AP Photo / Elaine Thompson) "I have three grandchildren and I would like them to try their luck in a healthy Washington state," Inslee said. But two consecutive years of smoke fires have shown that "unfortunately, it's not just for our kids, but for our lives as well." Winner or loser, the Washington Initiative 1631 is a case study of how tough carbon pricing can be – starting with the name. Calling it a tax might appeal to economists, but it could be politically fatal. Proponents of the measure call it a tax. "If something pays off, it's much harder for the legislature to use the money raised for things that are not directly related to what it's supposed to do," Gregg said. Small, Executive Director of Climate Solutions. Seventy percent of the revenue is spent on investments in renewable energy and 25% on water and forests. "People want a tax on pollution, not a tax," said pollster Frank Greer. "People want to do something to fight carbon pollution and see these funds invested in a clean energy economy." Support is heavy in the big cities of Seattle and Spokane, as well as among young voters and suburban women – much like the voters the Democrats hope to win. more than. And the crisis of poor air quality in summer, which rivaled that of Beijing, is still present in people's minds.
People cross the main street of downtown Walla Walla, Washington on Sunday evening August 19, 2018, as smoke from the northwest forest fires thickened. Wildfire smoke is obstructing the sky throughout the west, forcing authorities to even order healthy adults from the Seattle area to stay indoors, harming the visibility of Oregon. in Colorado and causing the cancellation of sports matches and the delay of flights. (Greg Lehman / Walla Walla Union-Bulletin via AP) "This is definitely an issue that worries couples," said Olsen. She added that plan makers for 2019 are asking, "Should this be a normal thing to wait for summer?" In a Crosscut / Elway poll, the 1631 Initiative raised 50% of 39 approval among the 400 registered voters interviewed. Thirty-six percent said they opposed the initiative, while 14% were undecided. The poll has a margin of error of 5 points. Stuart Elway surveyed 90 initiatives and only 16 managed to get less than 50% support in October. "It's about to increase," said Elway. "There is no cushion." We have to pedal faster. One of the reasons why the initiative has a chance is its difference with other proposals related to the carbon tax, including a project currently promoted in the capital by a group of directors. economists and former Cabinet members. and legislators. The group, led by former Treasury Secretary James A. Baker and former Secretary of State George Shultz, supports a revenue-neutral plan that would tax carbon emissions and to send identical repayments, or dividends, to households. The state of Washington tried a similar idea two years ago, combining a carbon tax and other tax cuts. He did not get the support of the unions or even some environmental groups. This time, the initiative is the result of the diversity of stakeholders. Jeff Johnson, chairman of the Washington State Labor Council, is also in the game. The measure would exempt eight energy-intensive manufacturing plants, inject revenue into clean energy projects, fund training and early retirement plans for the workers concerned, and create an appointed board of directors to distribute recipes in the future. One of the exempted plants is the largest emitter of all, a TransAlta-owned coal-fired plant that had already agreed to close its plant by 2025. Exemptions would also be granted to paper companies, aircraft manufacturers, and other companies. aluminum foundry. sensitive to international competition. Indian tribes who do not pay sales tax would also be exempt. But oil refiners should pay. Some climatologists criticize the fact that this fee is too small. After reaching $ 15 a tonne, the fees would increase from $ 2 a ton a year until 2035. The government would reap more than $ 1 billion a year by 2025. By going to his car earlier this month to travel to Gates, the governor acknowledged the critic. "It's a small signal," said Inslee. "But it's a sign of intent. And it accelerates with time. Inslee is widely regarded as a potential presidential candidate for 2020 and his adherence to this measure could distinguish him from other presidential candidates. It avoids the word "T" – taxes – and focuses on investments in renewable jobs in "infrastructure" and "clean energy". For him, the recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which signaled that "unprecedented" action was needed over the next decade, was "a revelation". "As fast as we had to pedal before, we have to pedal faster now. "Our destiny is already sealed & # 39; & # 39; The largest state-owned oil companies say the carbon initiative is not going to have any effect on global warming. The Western States Petroleum Association said that "climate change should be addressed nationally and internationally" and that state-level policy "would have a negligible impact on climate change mitigation, but could have a significant negative impact on our state's business activities. " that the carbon tax would initially raise gas prices by about 14 cents a gallon. The oil companies have set up an organization called No-on-1631 whose spokesperson, Dana Bieber, has targeted exemptions, in particular the coal-fired power station. Inslee, however, said that otherwise would violate the contractual agreement to close the plant. In addition, the goal of the tax is to change the behavior, not to raise funds. The campaign is delicate for two major oil companies that publicly support carbon taxes in general. Shell, which runs the state's second largest refinery, neither contributed to the "no" campaign nor approved the initiative, disappointing some members of society. BP, by contrast, gave $ 9.6 million in cash to defeat it, the largest amount for a single company. In a letter to a State House representative, Robert K. Allendorfer, head of BP's refinery, described the initiative as "a poorly designed policy that would disrupt Washington's economy without achieving a significant reduction in emissions. carbon". A study by NERA Consulting, which often runs for Bieber, said that this measure would cost Americans in the state of Washington $ 440 a year, at the gas pump and on utility bills. She said she would raise $ 30 billion over 15 years and create "an unelected council of designated political figures who can spend money as they see fit". Noah Kaufman, an economist at the Center for Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, pointed out that "groups refusing to support a carbon tax until a policy that fits perfectly with their priorities and uncompromising to overcome real-world constraints probably long. "Proponents of the carbon tax claim that NERA has not taken into account changes in the population. Inslee says Washington voters will not be convinced by the oil-backed group. "Given what the oil industry has done – unhindered, with no time limit or time – in the atmosphere we have, this should not cause much anxiety or tears to be just asking them not to treat our atmosphere like a sewer, "he said. 39, petroleum industry olière, many leaders have supported the initiative. "You may be skeptical about this idea. I know I was. How can a state make a difference on a global problem such as climate change? Written Gates in an open letter. "But I overcame my doubts." He called climate change "the most difficult problem that humankind has ever met" and said the initiative would send a "clear signal to the market". Taylor Shellfish, a family-owned company that has been plying the waters of Puget Sound since 1890 and now employs 700 people, has already received clear signals of climate change. Ten years ago, 75% of oyster larvae were essential for the production of baby oysters. The family consulted an eminent expert from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, but the diagnosis was not good: the carbon dioxide that had been stored in the ocean was disrupting coastal ecology, causing a shortage of carbonate ions. This prevented tiny larvae from building shells without using the energy needed to build food organs during the same crucial 48 hour period. "The most difficult part of the message is probably that the water that goes up along the Washington coast is 30 or 50 years old and that it's circulating in the depths," said Bill Dewey, director of business. of society. "So, even if the world stops burning fossil fuels today, our destiny is already sealed for the next 30 to 50 years. The ocean will continue to become more acidic because of what is already absorbed and under development. The family tries to adapt, using marine herbs and kelp that absorb carbon dioxide. "Our story is actually an encouraging story," said Dewey. "But we have also tried to use this experience to raise awareness among policymakers of the effects of carbon pollution and the importance of reducing our dependence on fossil fuels." But finding out how difficult it is to bring people together one proposal: Dewey said the Taylors, an old republican family that supported Democrats and Republicans, remained "neutral" on the carbon tax initiative. .