Credit: State of Washington

This post comments on vote totals as of 11 AM on November 7.

I-1631 failed. That’s a blow in the political fight against climate change. It doesn’t have to be a fatal one.

I-1631 gained a larger Yes margin than I-732, as of this morning. That’s remarkable, considering the amount of resources oil companies burned to defeat I-1631: the Yes campaign was outspent by about 2:1, as of today. I-732 did not face a coordinated No campaign. Given the stiffer opposition, any gains have to be considered a positive.

The gain is encouraging because I-1631 was a new concept: it engaged directly with the pocketbook and social justice issues that result from economic transition away from the fossil fuel economy. Explaining those issues, especially the pocketbook issues, will take time. “Green collar economics” isn’t new, but it also hasn’t caught fire. Making it a popular, winning issue will take further time, activism, and influence. Making a negative, status-quo case based on rising gas prices and bureaucratic overreach is much easier.

So it’s heartening that in the movement-building context, I-1631 presents some political gains. I-1631 engaged and activated a liberal base coalition that climate and environmental groups have struggled to work with in the past, such as activists of color and organized labor.

But a loss is a loss. I-1631 was, from the start, a tough fit for Washington, considering the state’s hostility to taxation. As of 11 AM on November 7, I-1634, the food and beverage tax ban, is passing at a similar margin to I-1631’s failure. It’s part of a long history: a recent high-earners income tax was DOA at the ballot box. State schools remain underfunded. Tim Eyman has had a long career. Washington does not like taxes (though not for no reason.) That’s old news for anyone who watches state politics.

So’s this: Washington was unable to make significant a progressive change because its liberal and progressive elected leadership lacks the necessary whatever—courage, wherewithal, organization—to take it to the house. In this case, the stymied change is the failure of Governor Jay Inslee and the Democratic legislature to make any progress on a climate change bill, despite multiple attempts.

You could write the same thing about public schools, gun control, an income tax, criminal justice reform, legalizing cannabis, or public transportation. Those are all issues that should be addressed by the legislature, but at best wind up at the ballot box.

Governor Inslee has long made the environment and climate change his signature issue, and his inability to shepherd a climate change bill through the legislature is an indictment of his leadership and effectiveness. He’s had more than one term—and a session with his party in control of both chambers—to take climate action, but didn’t.

Democrats seem likely to expand their majorities in the legislature. Maybe they will use them to take a bold step against climate change. If history is any guide, they won’t.

57 Replies to “After I-1631 fails, climate action is getting kicked back to Olympia”

  1. Two thoughts:

    1) Get a campaign manager who can actually, you know, manage a campaign without causing trouble!

    2) IF you want to act against climate change, it starts at home. It starts by being a smarter consumer and better recycler. It starts by demanding more electrification of transportation – which is coming.

    1. The problem with “starting at home” is that most consumers buy products mostly based upon a price signal- they don’t care about other factors, like environmental concerns. That’s why almost all economists from left to right agree that to seriously reduce carbon emissions, you can’t rely on voluntary action but have to put in place a carbon tax, because consumers will respond to that by buying a lot less stuff that emits a lot of carbon because it’s more expensive.

      1. Carbon taxes make renewable alternatives more price-competitive.

        Consumers alone can’t solve the problem: much of it occurs in industry and institutions that consumers can’t control or even know about. When the Great Recession hit the price of oil plummeted, and some half of it was not people driving less but industrial operations idling.

  2. Tax reform is always a tricky battle because voters are idiots. People will vote to spend more money and vote to lower taxes during the same election. It reminds me of this classic Simpsons episode:

    This is why an income tax failed in this state. People don’t like the idea of a tax, even when it actually lowers their taxes. Taxes aren’t unique, either. People vote based on stupid, meaningless phrases, like “Hope and Change” or “Make America Great Again”, while never bothering to actually read a position paper.

    Of course the legislature should do the work, but with a stupid electorate, can you blame them for passing the buck?

    1. RossB;

      I’ve always appreciated you commenting on here. Until you said, “voters are idiots”. Please don’t insult our intelligence – we all have differing priorities and a lot of grey.



      1. Until you said, “voters are idiots”.

        Voters repealed an oil spill response and cleanup tax via Advisory Vote 19. It’s non-binding, so hopefully the legislature maintains it, but still, that’s not indicative of intelligent voting.

      2. Voters repealed an oil spill response and cleanup tax via Advisory Vote 19.

        I admit to being less informed this mid-term than usual; a response to being exceptionally busy and a “my vote won’t make a difference” realization. But I was completely blindsided by this particular issue on the ballot. Generally I vote to retain taxes the legislature has mustered the backbone to pass. What was different this time was there was no explanation on what happened to the money collected. If there’s no spill does it just disappear into the bottom of the pork barrel? If it were being used to buy clean-up insurance I’d be all for it. But nobody was saying anything so just slapping a tax on something with a fancy label doesn’t cut it when the funds from 1631 did nothing but create a huge slush fund.

        There’s two things that can be done that have a meaningful impact. Number one isn’t even very controversial and that’s promote efficiency through things like LED lighting, insulation rebates, heat pump systems, etc.Number two is literally, the nuclear option. There simply is no other alternative to fossil fuel power plants that will maintain the current living standards we enjoy. Wind and hydro simple aren’t enough and can’t respond to peak demands. Plus, they are not without their own environmental impacts; especially hydro power which is why we’re removing, not building new damns.

      3. This is the same inaccurate language that gets put on every tax advisory vote, as required by an Eyman initiative. The language is inaccurate because the initiative requires it to be inaccurate. The Democrats have the majority to repeal this exercise in putting Fake News on the ballot.

      4. Doesn’t our fake AG approve all the language on the ballot? Maybe he’s too busy suing Trump or Value Village or putting together his campaign for governor. As long as you got me going… I voted for the anti-gun bill even though I know it’s unconstitutional; I just hate guns. But the AG is supposed to hold his nose and uphold the law. Instead, he openly campaigned for something that is blatantly unlawful. Maybe he’s just hoping for an appointment to the 9th Circus Court.

      5. How is it inaccurate? It’s biased spin to be sure. “The legislature, without a vote of the people, voted to increase tax X.” That’s out of context that would explain why the tax was necessary or what the alternatives were, but is it inaccurate?

        That measure needs to be repealed because it wastes money to print those pages in the voters’ pamphlet (including every legislator’s vote) and staff time to compile them.

    2. “People will vote to spend more money and vote to lower taxes during the same election.”

      Careful with that. It could be different people voting en masse for one or the other. Some issues fire up certain people to go the polls, and the opposite issues fire up other people, so the net result is canceling each other out. That seems to happen most with education measures and tax measures: one initiative passes to reduce class sizes or raise teachers’ salaries, and another year another initiative passes to kill the taxes that would have funded it.

  3. “Washington does not like taxes (though not for no reason.) That’s old news for anyone who watches state politics.”

    Wrong. Actually, the electoral history of this state shows that Washingtonians DO like taxes and have even voted to keep taxes in place (like the estate tax or the gas tax) when the right wing tried to get rid of them.

    Taxes are what funds the essential public services we all rely on: schools, universities, parks, pools, roads, transit, hospitals, libraries, fire protection, police protection, emergency medical services, water systems, sewer systems, the power grid. People want those things and they’re essential for business.

    A truth the right wing has difficulty acknowledging is that our economy couldn’t function without taxes. Most Washingtonians understand this truth, though, no matter what Eyman says.

    While people may not enjoy the *act* of paying taxes (e.g. turning in a property tax bill or eying the added charges on a sales receipt), that does not mean they oppose the concept of taxes. Essential services simply aren’t free and most people — with the notable exception of Eyman and his followers — get that; they would rather have the services and pay the taxes than not have the services.

    Do people want taxes to be fair? Yes. They do. But you know what? Even though our tax code is the worst in the nation, people are still voting to tax themselves for essential services.

    Take a look around the state at local election results. You’ll find local propositions — bonds and levies alike — passing in many places. These measures asked voters to increase sales and property taxes to fund public services close to home. In jurisdiction after jurisdiction, these measures have majority support. I-1631 wasn’t the only measure involving revenue on the ballot for many Washingtonians this year.

    1. As always the truth is in the middle. People are somewhat opposed to taxes, but they also recognize that they’re sometimes necessary, and Washingtonians on average are more willing to fund things that some other states don’t.

      The adversity to an income tax goes back to at least the 1970s if not earlier. Most states have an Income+Property+Sales tax troika. Washington has only a Property+Sales, er, doika? There have been several income tax proposals in my lifetime but the argument against them is always the same: even if the state initially reduces sales tax to compensate, it will creep back up again in a few years and we’ll be paying more total tax. Or in other words, you can’t leach as much blood with fewer orifices. So it overlaps with Eyman’s tax-cutting initiatives, but it’s larger and more longstanding than that. But in the previous income-tax proposals in the 1970s and 80s the cost of housing and living was cheap, so it was easy to say “I don’t need government services”. But since then housing has become unaffordable, wages haven’t kept up with inflation, what healthcare people had has been whittled partly away, the climate situation has gotten more precarious, and the regressive tax structure has more serious impacts. So Washingtonians need government spending now more than we did, and thus we need to rethink some of our theoretical opposition to income taxes, and make the tax system less regressive. But many people are unaware of this or in denial about it, or don’t mind being squeezed by the current system as long as other people are squeezed more. So it will take time to turn it around.

      1. since then housing has become unaffordable

        Only in the Puget Sound region and maybe Vancouver (don’t know). You can still get a great deal on a nice place in Tonasket. There is a deep divide in this State that gets deeper the farther you get from Seattle.

        Washingtonians need government spending now more than we did

        The Seattle mantra. Most parts of the State believe this is ludicrous; hard to disagree when you look at the results in Free-attle. Joe Shmoe in Tonasket, “Ah, let’s see… you want to take my money, take my guns & set up government sponsored heroin dens.” About right?

      2. “You can still get a great deal on a nice place in Tonasket.”

        Not for people who live in Tonasket. I don’t know about Tonasket in particular, but the phenomenon of housing prices rising above 33% of the average local income has spread from the large prestigious coastal cities to many small cities and towns across the US. It’s cheap for us to move to Spokane or Wenatchee, but it’s not cheap for those who have Spokane or Wenatchee salaries. I saw a statistic that nowhere in Washington state can you rent an apartment for less than, I don’t remember the exact amount, $800 or something. Across the country, the only areas that seem to be escaping it are those that allow unlimited sprawl (like Houston) and those that are the most depressed and people are leaving (parts of the Rust Belt).

        My theory is that there was plenty of slack in the market in the 1960s and 70s when the inner greenfields were still green and thus cheap housing could be built within a short commute. Seattle’s population also declined during that time due to white flight, as in many cities. The slack gradually diminshed in the 90s and 00s but there was sill some in 2008 when the crash occurred. Homeowners also moved more often then so there was turnover that somebody else could get. But construction halted during the recession, and when buyers started coming again, sellers weren’t moving, either because of negative equity or the recent trauma or a fear that they couldn’t get a house even as good as their existing one for the same price. In Seattle sellers haven’t been moving at their previous rate even in 2017, although they may be starting to now. Then there’s the fact that all the close-in greenfield land that was used for expansion in the 60s and 70s is now built upon. People used to drive 15 minutes until they qualified, now they’re driving 40, 60, 120 minutes. Then restrictive zoning kicks in: infill development is blocked, except for old industrial districts like Bel-Red. Meanwhile the population continues to grow. As the slack gets closer to the vanishing point, prices accelerate. In the post-2011 recovery the slack finally evaporated. That happened severely in Seattle with the influx of Amazonians that wiped it out the remaining $600 rent deals in decayed buildings, but it’s happening more gradually across the country because the population is rising faster than housing is being built and it’s passed a slack threshold.

      3. I saw a statistic that nowhere in Washington state can you rent an apartment for less than [$800], I don’t remember the exact amount,

        I’d buy that statistic. A quick check of Craigslist around the state bears that out in places like Moses Lake and Spokane (FYI that drops ~$100 if you cross into Idaho). There’s a fixed cost in being a landlord. Anybody that has rented out a property will tell you that fixing broken plumbing on Christmas Eve, trying to find renters that will pay and not trash the place, attempt to keep up with rising property taxes and the cost of maintenance, etc. is not anything like collecting interest on money in the bank. As interest rates rise and property values increase expect rental prices to rise further.

        . in Seattle with the influx of Amazonians that wiped it out the remaining $600 rent deals in decayed buildings

        It’s true that high wage jobs and a willingness to upzone for density has resulted in the market moving upscale. No worries though, wait 80 years and all these places will become affordable housing. Another thing pretty much specific to Seattle is the hostile city council policies toward landlords. If you’re already renting something out at the margin and the City tells you have to rent to the first person that applies, spread out the damage deposit over 6 months, etc. then it becomes increasingly attractive to just cash out.
        But if you look at inflation and wages housing should be less of a percentage than it was in 2004. ($600 in 2004 = $800 in 2018). In that same period WA minimum wage increased from $7.16 to $11.50/hr, considerably higher in Seattle.
        The moral of this long sad story is that higher taxes and more government spending isn’t helping people (unless you’re an <strike)illegal undocumented alien or heroin junkie). Initiative 1631 was just another in the streak of elitist progressive measures designed to make “the haves” feel good about buying their Tesla and moving into a newly minted highrise.

      4. “Washingtonians need government spending now more than we did”.

        “The Seattle mantra.”

        I think people have moved relatively, even if Eastern Washingtonians and outer suburbanites are still more conservative than Seattlites and haven’t moved as far. In the 1960s and 70s many things were just givens, taken for granted and assumed they would last forever: plenty of water, lack of wildfires, short commutes, high-paying working-class jobs, etc. Now these are problems and people realize we have to cope with them somehow, and that requires effort or spending.

      5. “There’s a fixed cost in being a landlord.”

        Landlords in 2003 had the same fixed costs as they do now, but rents have more than doubled and costs were only a small fraction of that.

      6. Landlords in 2003 had the same fixed costs as they do now

        Obviously you don’t write checks twice a year to pay property tax. You might even believe there is a legal limit on how much they can increase per year. Hint, there’s not as anyone who writes the checks can tell you. As wages and the cost of material go up your cost of maintenance goes up. The idea that rent increases are a windfall where landlords have doubled their profits is simply out of touch with reality.

      7. In some places rents don’t keep up with costs. Seattle is not one of those places. Property tax did not increase 40% in seven years, and inflation has been been 2% or less since 2000. What happened is that more tenants competed for a fewer number of vacant units so landlords were able to jack up the prices, often using ludicrous claims of “tax and untility price increases” to justify $100-150 price jumps. The influx of affluent tech workers was a windfall for landlords because they could afford more and wouldn’t complain as much about the new prices.

      8. Property tax did not increase 40% in seven years

        OK, let’s use your 7 year time frame. I looked up KC assessors info for a home in Woodinville were were renting out. We held the rent steady at $800 the entire time because having a GREAT renter was a much better deal than going for max rental potential. Over your time period the total assessed value went from $208,000 to $322,000. That’s not 40%, it’s over 50%. I’m not complaining. We were essentially breaking even with the rent while the housing market recovered. In fact, more than recovered which is why we sold and that property is no longer in the rental pool. You have to understand that in addition to out of pocket expenses (which went up considerably) as the value of a property goes up the cost of keeping it as a rental increases (low liquidity, time sink, high potential for loss) vs the value of holding cash that can be spent on anything you want or reinvested in a zero maintenance vehicle at the risk/reward curve of your choosing.

  4. California has large inversion zones and hence has the worst air of any inland cities in the country (Bakersfield, Fresno, Sacramento and etc). Until you can figure out how to damage the air quality of Spokane, The Tri-Cities, Yakima and other smaller towns, Washington voters will never vote for fuel taxes like California does.

    And besides, the median household income in a county such as Yakima is only $48,004. Not a lot of wiggle room, especially when considering how transportation takes up a significant part of a budget.

    1. California remains the only State with a carbon tax. How effective has that been given it “has the worst air of any inland cities in the country”. I’d question that a bit though as Salt Lake City for one can be particularly bad.

      I’m still having a hard time understanding why this blog invests so much in championing a carbon tax in WA. I mean, if it earmarked the proceeds, even a percentage of the money to be spent on subsidizing effective transit (i.e. stuff that actually has a history of working) then I could see it. But if anything this would likely drive up fuel costs to transit agencies and dis-proportionally hit low income transit riders.

      1. Transit agencies are exempt from gas taxes and were exempted from this initiative. I also fail to see how it would affect low income transit riders negatively (as opposed to low income drivers who sometimes take transit).

      2. The cost of doing business goes up for “big oil”. They are going to pass along that cost irrespective of who’s the end customer. Low income transit riders still heat their homes even if they don’t own a car. But, the vast majority of low income transit riders have at least one vehicle in their household and their trips are less likely to be discretionary. For example, unable to afford housing in Seattle they drive to a Park & Ride. Or one wage earner has a job where transit isn’t an option.

        The pro 1631 sentiment on this blog smacks of progressive elitism. The $100-200/mo don’t mean squat to me or I don’t drive so anything that “sticks it to the man” is good. The remaining support, like from the tribes and union labor all stems for the goodies this pot of free money the appointed board would be handing out as favors. Climate change? Yeah, well… won’t actually do much but “we got to do something.

      3. “California remains the only State with a carbon tax. How effective has that been”
        “I’d question that a bit though as Salt Lake City for one can be particularly bad.”

        You won’t see the full effects of Californias C&T for at least another 10 years (system was only implemented fully and stabalized a year ago. But given the disappearance of the all too common brown-outs, this years high volume sales of Teslas and the amount of carbon free energy coming in from other states I would have to say it is off to a good start.

        “Bakersfield ranked worst in the nation for short-term particle pollution and third-worst for year-round particle pollution. However, the region did see fewer unhealthy air days than last year’s report.

        The city ranked second worst nationally for ozone pollution, a summertime pollution problem that creates smog. Bakersfield experienced more days of unhealthy ozone levels compared to last year’s report.

        The most populous metro area, Los Angeles, led the nation for ozone pollution, faring worse than it did in the 2017 report.”

      4. First, mass transit WAS specifically named as one of the sectors for investment under I-1631, which stated that funds raised from the fee would be used for a number of things including to:

        “(ii) Reduce vehicle miles traveled or increase public transportation, including investing in public transit, transportation demand management, nonmotorized transportation, affordable transit-oriented housing”

        Second, with regard to air-quality in CA, I think it’s important to point out a few things.

        1. California doesn’t have a carbon tax. It does have a cap and trade system that is designed to fulfill a similar function, but because of design differences it is not reasonable to assume that the affects would be substantially the same.

        2. The point of a carbon policy is to reduce carbon emissions, not the emission of fine particulate matter. It is true that the emission of particulate matter will likely decline as a result of a good carbon policy, but it is not the chief aim of such a policy.

        2. Just because a given policy doesn’t solve a problem, that does not mean it isn’t ameliorating it. A strong carbon fee would undoubtedly have improved air quality in Washington.

      5. funds raised from the fee would be used for a number of things including to:
        “(ii) Reduce vehicle miles traveled or increase public transportation,

        Spending of the windfall was vague and totally discretionary. Not only discretionary but devoid of any metrics. Money like that will always go to those groups that buy influence.

        If CA carbon tax hasn’t had a chance yet what about our neighbors to the north? Jay Inslee used the smoke from forest fires in his campaign for increased taxes, er… I mean user fees. B.C. has a carbon tax. How does following their lead reduce smoke from fires north of the boarder?

        this years high volume sales of Teslas

        That’s an argument for a regressive tax policy? Wow!

      6. Because we have to start out small with a small carbon tax to get the ball rolling so that other places can start passing it, too. If you think 1-1631 was bad, we can always amend it later. Scientists and economists agree that delays in fighting climate change, even by one or two years, are very bad.

      7. “I’m still having a hard time understanding why this blog invests so much in championing a carbon tax in WA.”

        For the same reason BC has a carbon tax. Right now fossil-fuel users spread the negative impacts (“cost”) of consuming them to non-users and minimum-users, including non-drivers, people with small houses and apartments, and animals and fish. That’s called “negative externalities”. It’s the same reason there’s traffic congestion: the marginal benefit to individuals who overuse it is more than the cost to everyone. and the only way to solve this is with congestion fees and transit lanes.

        There are multiple theories re the best kind of carbon scheme, but one theory is that BC’s is best because it refunds the proceeds to residents. That results in a net shift from high users to low users. It also effectively gives residents an ownership stake/dividend in the natural resources in their province, like Alaska’s oil fund. That’s a potential model for other things like clean water and air. It prevents the cost of exploiting them from being zero.

        “The cost of doing business goes up for “big oil”.”

        Why? Sales tax doesn’t affect the cost of doing business for manufacturers; it’s the end user who pays it, and the level is arbitrary and disconnected from the thing you purchase. If we didn’t have sales tax we’d have a higher property tax and income tax, so would you say that they affect Big Oil the same?

        “The remaining support, like from the tribes and union labor all stems for the goodies this pot of free money the appointed board would be handing out as favors.”

        That’s a whopper of an assumption. Indian tribes have been environmentalists for hundreds of years because they consider the land and rivers and salmon and animals sacred and they recognize that their life depends on a healthy ecosystem. The Northwest Coast tribes are among the strongest in that, some say because there’s enough water here and the temperatures are mild so they perceived of nature as a friend rather than an enemy.

        As for unions, even if the union leadership is thinking of their personal benefits (as all organizations do), the fact remains that their “side” was disproportionately pro-environment and clean-energy to begin with so it’s hard to disentangle the two. Saying that the unions are in it just for themselves is ignoring the sentiments of many of their members.

        “Spending of the windfall was vague and totally discretionary. Not only discretionary but devoid of any metrics.”

        That’s still better than treating carbon pollution as free.

        “Jay Inslee used the smoke from forest fires in his campaign for increased taxes, er… I mean user fees.”

        He did? I don’t know what that means. Maybe he meant taxes to make our forests more healthy so we wouldn’t have so many big wildfires.

        “B.C. has a carbon tax. How does following their lead reduce smoke from fires north of the boarder?”

        It doesn’t. It focuses on man-made pollution. Wildfires will require a different solution.

      8. California’s cap and trade also provides rebates to electric rate payers. I get a “climate credit” every six months that zeros out that month’s energy bill, with a bit of rollover. There are also incentives to install a switch on central air conditioners that cut it off when peak demands are high, and credits for switching to a Time of Use energy plan which keep my power bill extremely low.

      9. I’m not speaking in terms of social-economics. I’m speaking in terms of CO2. Will an electric car have a CO2 byproduct? No. Volumes sold has a multiplier effect correct? Yes Will higher gas prices spur EV sales? Yes

        “The California Air Resources Board today approved a $483 million (C&T funds) plan to fund clean car rebates” so even poor can afford Teslas in coming years.

      10. “I’m still having a hard time understanding why this blog invests so much in championing a carbon tax in WA.”

        Bernie, I think you answered your own question.

      11. “Will an electric car have a CO2 byproduct? No.”

        It depends on how the electricity was generated.

  5. I think a bill similar to I-732 would pass if proposed again.

    A bill similar to I-1631 will never have a chance.

    Hopefully a compromise can be found that keeps the support of the 1631 coalition without triggering the massive opposition spending. Keep some funding for mitigation/green energy but also include some relief to make the bill less of a burden on lower-income voters.

    1. The massive opposition spending came because the polling numbers for 1631 were higher to start, not because oil companies preferred 732. Any initiative that has a chance of passing will trigger massive spending. I volunteered with both these campaigns, and I think I’m done with carbon pricing on the ballot (I will vote for it, but not volunteer). Other approaches, like renewable energy mandates have a better chance.

      1. I wouldn’t read too much into the lack of oil company spending against I-732. The in-fighting in the environmental movement, coupled with the active hostility of many “lefty” organizations, doomed that one from the start. There was little reason for oil companies to spend money defeating it when there was no organized support from the left.

        I think you’re right that, after this, carbon tax ballot measures are dead in Washington. The question is what might work. A renewable energy mandate is one (good) idea. I hope that the legislature will look at a carbon tax as well. If they do, it will be important to structure it in a way that will survive the inevitable Tim Eyman initiative to repeal it. A revenue neutral measure might be a better way to achieve that.

    2. How about using carbon tax proceeds to fund education? The Dems are desperate to reduce “regressive” property taxes, and seem to have scant interest in reducing sales tax. If we can’t reduce regressive taxes, then spend the money in the most progressive way there is: on the children.

      Buy off Republicans by also spending some of the windfall on charter schools. If the public teachers get a handsome raise in the process, they will hopefully be able to overlook the private school investments.

      There is no making Big Oil happy. Figure out a way to make everyone else happy. And find a way to let Big Oil participate in the green economy conversion, too.

      1. Big Oil already has plenty of ways to participate in the green economy- the green economy has plenty of areas in which you can make a good return, and Big Oil has plenty of capital. They’re just not interested in doing it.

      2. Big Oil has been doing research for years into post-oil energy and related products. It’s just keeping it secret, and flogging the dying horse as long as it can.

  6. Disappointed but not surprised that it failed, but I’m encouraged by the higher proportion of “yes” votes.

    My legislators usually come to my city for a town hall prior to the legislative session. They’ll be hearing from me about this. I think the will is there for people to reduce their impact on the environment, but it’s never going to happen without structure, incentive, and a game plan for how we get there. That’s where the legislature needs to show leadership.

  7. Lifelong Democrat, but Gov. Inslee = Gov. Dysfunction. And the Wa state legislature operates about as smoothly as a one car accident on I-5 at 8:15am on a Thursday near the James St. exit ramp: the whole thing folds like a deck of cards.

  8. I noticed that many Eastern Washington counties had higher percentages for I-732, so it presumably did a better job of appealing to conservatives. It would require some exit polling data, but it would be interesting to see the percentage of voters that supported either climate bill. It could give a sense of whether or not a compromise initiative would be worth trying.

  9. 732 absolutely did face an organized opposition campaign, 2 actually. AWB, Koch brothers PSE and oil marketers raised a ran TV ads against it while enviros and social justice went to community events and newspapers to oppose it.

    I think I agree pricing is dead at the ballot. 1631 isn’t a moral victory with a 2-3 point improvement over 732.1631 did face much stiffer opposition but it also had a nice ballot title, no infighting, and a huge coalition behind it.

    1. I’m not sure whether the “huge coalition” was a talking point or a reality. Yes, 1631 had a larger coalition than I-732, which counted on anti-tax allies that never emerged, and still won’t emerge if advocates of a revenue-neutral approach try to reinvent the flat tire. Various social justice groups are on record holding climate action hostage to getting more money for their communities. Those that turned around and helped with this measure will hopefully now get behind whatever can be done in the legislature, regardless of whether they get a piece of the action.

      But 1631 had only a handful more financial contributors than the No on 1631 campaign did. The absence of grassroots fundraising may have been a missed opportunity to get stronger buy-in from said “huge coalition”. I can’t speak to the number of volunteers, as about half the people I ran into pushing I-1631 were paid petitioners, some of them carrying Eyman’s $30-car-tab initiative petitions.

      At any rate, those who opposed one or the other measure but still want to fight for the side that fights for the living need to learn how to compromise, and fast. As the Lewiston Tribune Editorial Board said:

      “You can either take a responsible step forward or stand still when time is not your ally.”

      Get it together folks. We are out of time for petty infighting among homo sapiens who all face the wrath of Mother Nature.

      Summer is coming.

    1. 1631 had a higher margin for Yes then 732, and 1631 had a much more organized and better funded opposition to it.

      Let’s not insult people, and social justice isn’t a dogwhistle. A dogwhistle would require implied racism and bigotry.

  10. The facts are that the only real way to reduce carbon emissions is to increase energy costs. I don’t want my energy costs to go up so I voted against the measure. A lot of you are desperate to explain this result away as the result of ‘big oil money spending’ deceiving a gullible electorate but you should recognize that many of us are quite well-informed on this issue and made a different decision than you with eyes wide open.

    Washington is well-situated to weather impending climate changes, in fact it may be a comparative boon as California farms become parched and our Eastern Washington fields get warmer and wetter. Nothing in this bill would have made any meaningful impact on climate change. None. Did you hear that Brazil just elected a far-right leader? He’s reported to be very interested in opening up more of the rain forest to development. Oops there went 10x the carbon savings this bill could ever hope to produce. Forget the carbon, Democrats need to stop burning political capital on this losing issue. Our civil liberties are being attacked and our national coffers are being pilfered by the real doomsday cult – the GOP. Democrats will never match their sadism so we should stick to the hope and change messages rather than the doom and damnation routine.

    Climate change is exciting! Breaking records is always a hoot. Strongest hurricane, longest drought, the polar’st vortex. Rebuilding houses destroyed in the latest cataclysm is good for the economy and helps shake things up a bit. New technology like those hats with a little fan that blows on your face to keep you cool in the extra-scorching sun. We’ll adapt and thrive.

    If you really think we are in a Malthusian trap the solution is to limit population growth. Perhaps forced sterilization or a punitive tax on childbirth? As a person who doesn’t have or want children this seems a lot more fair from my perspective. Why should I have to pay more to heat my house so that my neighbor can keep popping out carbon-burnin’ babies that turn into carbon-burnin’ adults?

    1. We can easily compensate for extra costs by doing like BC does and reduce other taxes by the same amount, which was what the last initiative did (yet the last one got less votes then this one):

      Research suggests that Eastern Washington will get drier:

      So, no, it won’t help the farms.

      Canada is about to pass a carbon tax with rebates, which was partially a result of BC successfully doing so. Doing it in a few states means more states will consider it. Once the entire U.S does it, that is a big amount of carbon emissions gone. 1,000,000 pennies are useless individually, but together they add up to $100,000. How can we do hope and change if the economy is dying because of climate change?

      Are you serious?

      Economists agree that climate change will be awful for the economy

      Population growth is well on the way to turning into degrowth:

      Authoritarian measures did not and won’t work:

      Instead, education and women’s rights are key:

      So population growth is a non-issue, because it’s already going way down to negative rates.

    2. “Washington is well-situated to weather impending climate changes, in fact it may be a comparative boon as California farms become parched and our Eastern Washington fields get warmer and wetter.”

      The temperate latitudes will get some benefit in terms of a longer growing season and more mild average temperature. But the negatives impacts are likely to be more than that, with more extreme weather — especially heatwaves and wildfires which we’re already experiencing. And millions of climate refugees coming here from the east coast and southwest to escape severe heatwaves, drought, hurricanes, and crop failures. And because our economy is connected to the rest of the country and world by trade and a common nation, problems elsewhere will inevitably impact here.

      “Canada is about to pass a carbon tax with rebates, which was partially a result of BC successfully doing so.”

      Really? That’s the same way it got universal healthcare. One province started it (Quebec?), a few others followed, and eventually all did. (Canada has a weaker central government and more provincial control, so a national policy was less likely.)

      “So population growth is a non-issue, because it’s already going way down to negative rates.”

      Population growth is slowing down but the number of people is expected to rise from 6 billion to 9 billion and stabilize. (The article says 10 billion, so that may be more recent.) There’s a YouTube video that explains why this is, but it comes down to the fact that when people change the number of children they have, it takes twenty years for the children to grow up and have their own children, which is when you start seeing cumulative impacts. So when the birth rate drops below 2 per woman, there are still a lot of women around giving birth, and it takes time for the number of women giving birth to stabilize. Some European countries and Japan are already declining in population. The US would be too except immigration has been propping it up, but even that will not be enough to keep the population up long term. So Europe and the US are small and irrelevant to word population now. The biggest increase will come in Africa and then switch to Asia (or the other way around)? Then their populations and the world’s population will stabilize.

  11. carbon tax is tough to understand, stuff like this gets passed down to the consumer. When gas tax is in the top 5 and then some electric plants. that means more gas tax or tab tax and maybe electrical too. when pinching pennies month to month. it is not the business that pay, it will be the consumer. that is my thoughts. you lower federal taxes, I will be willing to pay more state taxes. there are many lower income counties in the state that would have a tough time affording more costs.

    1. That’s why we can either make it revenue neutral by lowering some other taxes instead or rebating the taxes back to people as a dividend check.

      On the consumer paying, that’s not necessarily true- a lot of businesses will either eat the extra costs because they want to maintain their current prices or they will find ways to emit less carbon so that they don’t have to pay the extra costs.

    2. Carbon taxes make low-carbon products relatively cheaper and spur investment in that area, which leads to more low-carbon goods at lower prices. It’s been said that oil will end at a low price because eventually nobody will want to buy it. It may remain only for a few niche uses, like the way gold will still be used for dental fillings even if it goes out of fashion for jewelry and storing wealth.

  12. It’s not that people don’t believe in renewable energy, they’re just smart enough to know that if you tax a business – any business – they typically pass the cost on to consumers. In this case, electric, natural gas, gasoline, oil bills. Since the money is directed to an unelected board, not too unlike Sound Transit, there’s no telling where the money will end up. The politicians should get some backbone and pass legislation rather than try to get it by having voters vote to tax themselves.

    1. The money wasn’t directed to an unelected board. The board would only make recommendations for the elected legislature to work with in the budget of how it would be spent.

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