Commentary: The Carbon Fee Initiative I-1631

Commentary by Russ Weed, CleanTech Alliance Government Affairs Chair, September 24, 2018.

Initiative I-1631, the Protect Washington Act, states it is “intended to protect Washington for our children, our grandchildren, and future generations by quickly and effectively reducing pollution and addressing its negative impacts.”

Russ Weed, CleanTech Alliance Government Affairs Commitee Chair
Russ Weed, CleanTech Alliance Government Affairs Commitee Chair

The mechanism for that protection of Washingtonians is three-fold:

(1) a pollution fee on carbon emissions within the State of Washington, beginning on January 1, 2020, at $15 per metric ton of carbon content,

(2) collection of those pollution fees in a dedicated “clean up pollution fund,” and

(3) use of 70% of the fees in clean air and clean energy investments, 25% in clean water and healthy forests investments, and 5% in healthy communities investments.

The 2020 pollution fee of $15 per ton increases by $2 per year starting in 2021, but stops increasing when Washington’s 2035 greenhouse gas reduction goal is met and Washington’s emissions are on a trajectory to likely comply with our 2050 goal.  (There is also adjustment for inflation.)

There is much more to the initiative, of course, so if you haven’t had a chance to read I-1631, please do!  You can find the text here.

One concern about I-1631, which I personally share, is the decision-making on the use of the pollution fees (including the governing board of the pollution fund and the committees empowered to decide the use of the pollution fees) must have strong Washington business participation.  Particularly by Washington cleantech business.

The Washington cleantech business community is one of the leaders in the U.S., and has critical expertise and experience on the cleantech solutions and analysis needed to carry out I-1631’s intent.

I appreciate the opportunity to share my perspective and welcome dialogue with all as we work collaboratively to protect Washingtonians and the Evergreen State.