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Washington State Rejects Nation’s First Carbon Tax at the Polls

November 9, 2016 By Cheryl Kaften

Voters in Washington State soundly rejected a carbon emission tax initiative on November 8 that would have imposed a tariff on the sale or use of certain fossil fuels and fossil-fuel generated electricity.

Had Initiative 32 passed, the state would have levied a $15 per metric ton tax on carbon emissions, effective next July. The tax would have increased to $25 per metric ton in July 2018 –and to 3.5 percent plus inflation annually until it reached $100 per metric ton. The measure also would have reduced the state sales tax from 6.5 percent to 5.5 percent, according to a report in the Puget Sound Business Journal.

“We’re back to the status quo,” David Giuliani, a co-founder of the Washington Business Alliance and supporter of the initiative told the local news outlet. “Except that people want something done about carbon so something’s ultimately going to get done about carbon.”

“Grassroots activism accomplished what many environmental leaders and media pundits said was impossible: We put a revenue-neutral carbon tax on the ballot,” said Yoram Bauman,

“While we did not pass the nation’s first carbon tax,” Bauman noted, “many states around the country are looking at I-732 as a model and we expect a nationwide movement to take root in the years ahead. We will look back at this as a lost opportunity to create history in Washington State, but also as a catalyst for much needed U.S. leadership on climate action.”

“We deeply appreciate the efforts of our staff and hundreds of volunteers who collected over 360,000 signatures to get I-732 on the ballot last December, and who continued the momentum until polls closed tonight,” said Kyle Murphy, co-director of the Yes on 732 campaign. “We are immensely grateful to Audubon Washington for its partnership and support, the thousands of people who donated to the Yes on 732 campaign with a median donation of $50, and everyone who endorsed the policy and campaigned on our behalf.”

“Carbon Washington will continue as an organization,” said Joe Ryan, co-chair of Carbon Washington. “Our grassroots base is our strength. We are energized to continue our work on carbon pricing in the state legislature, and to promote effective, equitable, economically sound and politically viable carbon pricing in other states and in Washington, D.C.”

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