Vote ‘No’ on I-1631

Initiative 1631 is a simple, attractive concept: Impose a steadily increasing fee on large emitters of heat-trapping carbon dioxide, and put the money toward environmental causes. … But the initiative[I-1631’s] execution is neither simple nor attractive. Its writers are proposing a tissue of favoritism, exceptions and unequal treatment. …

And I-1631 would be expensive indeed. The state estimates it would raise about $2.2 billion over the first five years, even more later. This money would not be available to the normal legislative process controlled by elected representatives. … Instead, these billions would be distributed by a 15-member board made up of state agency heads and governor appointees. This unelected group, along with three sub-panels, would distribute billions to its chosen environmental projects while safely insulated from accountability to voters. This initiative doesn’t value democratic choices; it values the choices of insiders, its chosen clique.

For example, Indian tribes are exempt from the carbon fee, just as they are from other state taxes, yet I-1631 guarantees a tribal representative on the 15-member panel. Why would tribes help spend a large pool of money, if by federal law they’re exempt from paying it? …

In the long term, a carbon tax might be the future of energy regulation in America, or even the world. The concept has a core quality of basic fairness. But a much more serious, more universal approach is needed to bring that fairness out in a way that is free of favoritism. Washington voters strongly rejected a less expensive carbon tax initiative in 2016, and they should reject I-1631 as well.

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