News Mar 2, 2016 at 4:00 am

A Controversial Carbon Tax Is Going on the November Ballot—But Critics Say Hard Conversations About Race and Social Justice Need to Happen First

Washingtonians will likely vote on a "revenue-neutral" carbon tax in November, but critics say the initiative doesn't sufficiently treat climate change like a social justice issue. Sydney Brownstone


This idea that we can't do anything about climate change unless we simultaneously fix all of our other social problems is not only dreaming, it's dangerous. The climate is changing, whether or not we have an problem with income inequality, whether or not there are issues with industrial pollution being located in communities of color, and whether or not low-income people are disproportionately affected by climate change.

In fact, all of those things strongly argue FOR doing what has to be done to address climate change ASAP, whether it makes you feel all happy inside or not.

Low-income people are in fact most affected by climate change. That is objectively true, and you fix that by addressing climate change.

Industrial facilities (think oil refineries) are more often sited in communities of color. That too is objectively true, and you fix that in part by shifting off of fossil fuels so that we can stop building refineries.

We have a problem with income inequality. That is also very very true. And one way to address that is to shift wealth away from large multinationals (think oil companies). Moving off of fossil fuels (and encouraging our domestic renewable energy industry, which = jobs) is a huge step in doing that.

Washington's tax structure is extraordinarily regressive. That hurts low income people. The cut in sales tax that would come with this initiative would directly help them. The working families' tax credit would also directly help them. Throwing out the idea of doing something about carbon pollution and climate change because all of your dreams about social equality are not addressed at the same time is insane, childish, and deeply irresponsible.

@1 dvs99: Thank you. Well said.
We also need to get rid of Republican lobbyists posing as state senators who are only serving out of state fossil fuel interests, and oust Doug Ericksen R-Ferndale, District 42, from office. Ericksen's obtructionist track record of No Way blocking anything getting done in Washington State legislature is beyond shameful. Michael Baumgartner R-Spokane, needs to go, too.
Yes, well stated, dvs99 @1.

Income inequality is a separate problem from climate change and fossil fuel dependence. We could hold the fixes to all sorts of problems hostage to contorting them around to address income inequality. The sad thing is, something like I-732 would almost certainly mitigate income inequality, albeit indirectly, as a side effect.

The other sad thing is that, as a revenue-neutral carbon tax, I-732 should appeal to Republicans, but the Republicans in our state legislature, or in Congress for that matter, aren't Milton Friedman, market-oriented small-c conservatives; they're there to carry the water for the fossil fuel industry.

Of course, I've come to expect this from the GOP. My real and sincere disappointment lies in the Democratic caucus's resistance to I-732. And that speaks to the fundamental political problem with putting a price on carbon and then plowing the proceeds back to the people. Everybody benefits from it; no particular, existing interest benefits enough from it to serve as a self-interested champion. There's no Halliburton or Solyndra who can justify an investment in the legislative process to their shareholders.
Oh, and as a revenue-neutral carbon tax, I-732 is remarkably similar to BC's carbon tax. A story in the NY Times this week asks, "Does a Carbon Tax Work? Ask British Columbia?" The answer is yes:…

You can see from that Times story that a carbon tax is a far more effective and equitable instrument than the regulatory path Jay Inslee wants to go down with his "Clean Air Rule."
It would be great if I-732 really were revenue neutral, but it's not. Passage of this initiative would therefore be a disaster in light of our chronic problem of public school underfunding. In addition, this initiative stiffs low income communities by failing to identify their needs and including mechanisms to actually apply carbon tax revenues to reduce pollution on a site specific basis with infrastructure projects. It is typical of the neoliberal Sightline Institutue to push this unicornish tax cut plan while hoping that its benefits will somehow trickle down to disadvantaged. Vote NO on I-732.

For details on why I-732 sucks, listen to this Blanbermouth segment starting at 12:10 ...…

.. and check out info on Front and Centered's website:…

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