After Washington's stalled carbon tax, new initiative wants 'pollution fee'

After Washington's stalled carbon tax, new initiative wants 'pollution fee'

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

With Gov. Jay Inslee's carbon tax bill stalled in the Legislator, a new initiative has arisen, this time aiming for a "pollution fee" in Washington state.

A coalition -- including the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy, the Nature Conservancy and Washington's tribal nations -- filed Initiative No. 1631 with the secretary of state’s office.

The citizen-pushed initiative explains in the ballot title, "This measure would charge pollution fees on sources of greenhouse gas pollutants and use the revenue to reduce pollution, promote clean energy, and address climate impacts, under oversight of a public board."

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In an analysis of the proposed fee from Carbon Washington, the bipartisan coalition has “political benefit of avoiding the 'T' word." It also proposes a "fee" legal structure that would limit the use of revenue raised by the policy to addressing carbon/pollution issues, Carbon Washington reports.

Carbon Washington reports the fee would start at $15 a metric ton of carbon in 2020. The Seattle Times estimates that it could add an estimated 14 cents to the cost of a gallon of gasoline.

KIRO 7 News called the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy about the increase in gas prices. The organization could not confirm the 14 cents increase -- saying it would be up to oil companies to decide how they want to deal with the fee if the initiative were to pass. Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy’s hope is that large pollutants, possibly like an oil refinery, would choose to lower emissions rather than bring the cost to consumers.

The initiative was filed in March, but as the coalition works to get signatures, it's caught the attention of both sides of the debate. While members of the coalition hail the initiative as a move toward a healthy clean energy economy, the Washington state Republican Party took to Facebook on Wednesday to say the fee would still risk giving working Washingtonians who drive a bigger gas bill to pay.

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