The team that advocated for I-1631 at downtown Seattle’s Arctic Club on Nov. 6, 2018. Photo by Melissa Hellmann

The team that advocated for I-1631 at downtown Seattle’s Arctic Club on Nov. 6, 2018. Photo by Melissa Hellmann

Washington rejects carbon fee

I-1631 campaign organizers say they will continue pushing for a cleaner future.

On Tuesday evening, the banquet room of downtown Seattle’s Arctic Club bustled with climate action advocates awaiting the results of the nation’s first fee on carbon pollution. The historic ballot measure, known as Initiative 1631, would have raised money for environmental projects by imposing a fee on large greenhouse gas emitters — and would have served as a testing ground for the states’ role in paving a cleaner energy future.

But by 10 p.m. on election night, over 56 percent of the 1.9 million counted votes rejected that possibility. It was the second time that Washington voters had struck down a ballot initiative designed to reduce greenhouse emissions, following the 2016 rejection of carbon tax Initiative 732. Jefferson, King, and San Juan counties were the only counties that had approved the measure by the end of election night, according to Secretary of State Kim Wyman’s office.

“We are on the right side, no matter what the numbers say,” Tyson Johnson, vice president of the Quinault Indian Nation and Yes on 1631 board member, said Tuesday at the Arctic Club. “We’ve given a voice to a lot of our communities that have been disenfranchised, that have been crying out for help.”

Initiative 1631 would have levied a $15 per metric ton fee on carbon emissions beginning in January 2020, with a $2 increase each year adjusted for inflation. The fee would have continued to rise until the state reached its 2035 greenhouse gas reduction goal, at which time the fee would have been capped if it was on track to meet the state’s 2050 target of reducing emissions to 50 percent below 1990 levels.

Among the emitters that would have been imposed fees include motor fuel licensees and power plants that generate electricity using fossil fuels. In return, 70 percent of the money would go toward clean energy programs that help low-income people or affected workers. Another 25 percent would have been used in clean water and forest investments; and the final portion would have helped communities particularly affected by climate change to prepare for and prevent the effects.

While a diverse group of over 600 organizations and businesses endorsed the Yes on 1631 campaign that raised a total of $15.5 million in contributions, according to the Clean Air Clean Energy Washington committee, it paled in comparison to the opposition campaign fueled by the oil industry that gained over double the funding.

Although the race was not called on Tuesday night because of the thousands of late return ballots, Washington voters in the Arctic Club accepted the projected defeat with solemn understanding. One organizer on stage encouraged the audience to high-five or embrace others in the room for their efforts on the I-1631 campaign.

Got Green Executive Director Jill Mangaliman told the crowd that the environmental justice organization — led by local people of color — was not deterred by the initiative’s failed passage. The organization will continue advocating for the communities most impacted by climate change, Mangaliman said: “We know that big oil can’t buy us.”

Johnson concurred that the failed initiative did not signal the end of community efforts to address greenhouse gas emissions.

“We have to continue to stand together, this coalition has to maintain our ties, and we have to continue this work,” Johnson said. “We are fighting for the future of our climate, as well as the ability for our future generations to continue to live and operate in a way that is loving, that is caring.”

mhellmann@seattleweekly.com


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@rentonreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.rentonreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

Police vehicle damaged after collision (Photo Credit: Renton Police Department)
Renton Police still looking to arrest suspect after officer involved hit and run

RPD spokesperson said suspect fled on foot after causing officer’s injury.

T
Carmen Rivera announces campaign for Renton City Council position 2

Today Carmen Rivera, educator and community advocate, announced her campaign for Renton… Continue reading

Event promotion (photo credit: City of Renton)
City of Renton to host virtual performance series to give platform to performers during pandemic

Tonight’s virtual event will feature local musicians exploring a short history of jazz.

Alan Lai (photo credit: Alan Lai)
Former Renton Prep student grades college assignments at UW at the age of a high-school senior

Alan Lai studies computer science and software engineering at University of Washington Bothell.

Black Press Media file
Renton Chamber of Commerce, local businesses to recognize distinguished educators.

Students, parents and peers can nominate teachers that “made a difference,”.

t
Renton man could face murder charge in March 30 Kent shooting

Marcus Golden killed on his way to an apartment where a man and woman were arguing

1 in 5 Washingtonians have suffered from low self-esteem during the pandemic, research reveals

Almost half of those who experience low self-esteem say this has been worse than previous years.

Photo via Pexels
King County residents needed for first respiratory study using Apple watches

UW study to help find if devices can detect early warning signs of acute respiratory infections, such as COVID-19 and flu.

Photo courtesy of Johnson and Johnson (jnj.com)
Johnson & Johnson vaccine halted in Washington over side effect

Following federal guidance, Washington health care providers are temporarily pausing Johnson &… Continue reading

Most Read