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@kentreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kentreporter.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

t
Jury finds man not guilty in 2021 murder at Kent apartment complex

Decides Darian Downing, 29, acted in self-defense in fatal shooting of Marcus Golden, 28

t
Leslie Hamada to run for reelection this year to Kent School Board

Voters elected Hamada in 2019 when she ran unopposed

Courtesy Photo, Sound Transit
Sound Transit postpones Kent Sounder parking garage opening to 2027

Fourth delay since agency in 2017 announced 2023 opening; voters approved funding in 2008

t
Kent receives $2M King County grant to buy land by Clark Lake Park | Photos

City will own all the property around the lake and keep property from development

t
Kent judge releases man from jail in Meridian school incident

Judge says ‘I have no other options remaining;’ family to take man to Eastern Washington

Newly sworn-in King County Prosecuting Attorney Leesa Manion. (File Photo)
King County’s new prosecuting attorney announces task force units

Leesa Manion said the units are focused on public safety and “King County’s greatest areas of concern”

t
18 pedestrians in Kent killed by trains from 2019 to 2022

Many safety improvements ahead at track crossings as city leaders seek quiet zone designation

t
Kent City Council approves surplus of wetlands near Bridges neighborhood

Land cannot be developed, but a new owner must maintain the property

t
Kent pedestrian, 70, dies after collision with vehicle on East Hill

Man was crossing SE Kent-Kangley Road Saturday evening, Jan. 21

Most Read