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Carbon Tax Measure Will Make the Washington Ballot

December 3, 2015

A voter initiative that would put a tax on carbon emissions has gathered enough signatures to put it on the ballot in 2016.

The measure would impose a tax of $25 for every ton of carbon emitted when fossil fuels are burned. Backers of the measure say that will increase some consumer prices, like what people pay for gasoline. The measure also calls for carbon tax's revenue to be used to lower the state sales tax, effectively eliminate the B&O tax on manufacturers and to provide rebates to lower income households.

Carbon Washington, the group behind the carbon tax, says it has gathered more than 330,000 signatures from Washington voters. If validated, the initiative will go to the state legislature in January. The legislature could adopt the initiative as is, or it will go to the voters in 2016.

“We’re absolutely thrilled,” says Yoram Bauman, the economist who founded Carbon Washington. Bauman also performs as a self-described “stand-up economist”:

The carbon tax proposal is modeled after the existing carbon tax in British Columbia. BC’s greenhouse gas emissions have gone down since 2005 but the province is still not on track to meet its reduction goals.

Washington environment and social justice groups recently announced plans to launch a competing initiative to impose a fee on the largest carbon emitters.  Their measure would put the revenue towards clean energy programs and projects intended to help adapt to the effects of climate change.

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A coal-fired power plant in Wyoming. Burning coal is the world’s leading source of carbon pollution and it has a direct impact on global climate change and the future of the world’s oceans.

Michael Werner