Policy & Economics
Policy & Economics

The Governor’s carbon tax, SB 6203, made it out of the Senate Energy, Environment and Technology Committee. It’s now awaiting a hearing in the Ways and Means Committee. The bill now includes spending for rural economic development as well as multi-modal transportation…which is good. But the price on carbon has been reduced from $20 to $10 per metric ton and the number of exempted business categories has been increased to 55. That gives away too much. This bill needs to be improved before it comes to a vote.

If your senator is on the Senate Ways and Means Committee, please call and ask that the bill be strengthened in the following ways:

1. Raise the starting price to $25/ton and remove the cap;
2. Reduce the number of exempted businesses included in the bill;
3. Direct targeted investments to those most affected, to reduce pollution and increase resilience where it’s needed most.

In addition, everyone should call key members of the committee with these specific requests (as well as those above):

Reuven Carlyle (36th), Kevin Ranker (40th), and Guy Palumbo (1st) — ask that the bill be amended with the improvements noted above.

Chair Rolfes (23rd) and Vice-Chair Frockt (46th) — ask them to consult with tribes concerning the contents of this bill, and schedule a vote with the improvements noted below.

Bob Hasegawa (11th) — ask that, as an equity champion, he bring an amendment about targeted equity for frontline communities and labor.

Want to know more about this bill and how it’s changed? Check out this comparison matrix from CarbonWA, and our color-coded guide to the initial set of carbon tax bills introduced this session. Here’s the official page for SB 6203, where you can read the bill and sign up for notifications. And here are some of the other bills we’re following.

CHANGES NEEDED:
 
1. The Governor’s carbon tax starts at $10/ton. Our position is that the tax should be at least $25/ton and should go up at least 7%/year, plus inflation.
 
2. Under both the Governor’s bill and Ranker’s bill, all utilities may retain in a separate account either 100% or 70% of the carbon tax they owe and may use it instead for clean energy and energy efficiency programs. Our position is that utilities should not be allowed to retain any part of the tax unless the investment is in non-fossil fuels. For example, a coal utility should not be allowed to invest in gas and retain the tax by arguing that it is cleaner than coal. A provision holding utilities accountable to carbon-reduction targets must also be included in the bill.
 
3. The Governor’s bill contains exemptions for the sale of biogas and biodiesel, renewable diesel and cellulosic ethanol. These exemptions should apply only when the party applying for the exemption shows significant carbon reductions of at least 50% from fossil fuels as verified by third-party lifecycle analysis. 
 
4. The Governor’s bill is insufficient in terms of addressing a just transition, disproportionately affected communities as well as low-income individuals. We would like to see more support for those in the labor community who will need help transitioning to a green economy, a specific pot of money for disproportionately affected communities, and financial support for low-income communities who cannot afford the tax.
 
5. The Governor’s bill prevents local communities from passing their own carbon tax legislation. We believe local  communities should have the right to raise revenue in their own communities for clean energy and for addressing the changing climate.
 
6. The targets in a carbon tax need to be stronger than is found in the existing bills — and should be based on climate science.  They should ensure that emissions of carbon dioxide in the state decrease by at least ninety-one percent below 1990 levels. 
Thank you all for your work, your activism, and your dedication to the climate!

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In addition to the Civic Action Team (sign up below!), the Policy Workgroup has  a Trade Policy/MMT team, and the Beyond Capitalism group.

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