Washington Gov. Jay Inslee proposes carbon tax

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, seen here during a prayer vigil in 2014, released details of a proposed carbon tax during his state of the state address Tuesday. File Photo by Jim Bryant/UPI

Jan. 9 (UPI) — Gov. Jay Inslee released details of a plan to tax fossil fuels in Washington state during his annual state of the state address Tuesday.

Inslee said the White House is walking away from the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He called on Washington to “walk forward and join this battle for the world’s healthy future.”

“By passing a carbon tax, we would simply join our West Coast neighbors, and the rest of the world, as the global economy moves away from fossil fuels and toward a decarbonized, clean-energy future,” Inslee said, citing similar legislation in California and British Columbia.

Inslee’s proposal would place a $20 per ton price on carbon emission, a figure that would rise over time, policy adviser Reed Schuler told The Seattle Times.

Washington would start collecting the tax in the 2020 budget year when it’s expected to generate $726 million within the year. Throughout the next four years the tax would raise a total of $3.3 billion.

The funds raised by the tax would be reinvested into efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, flood management and storm water infrastructure as well as efforts to reduce the risk of wildfires.

The tax would be levied on hundreds of businesses that use fossil fuels including power plants and fuel importers.

It would increase by 3.5 percent each year above the rate of inflation with the intention of creating a price signal that steers consumers away from fossil fuels.

Aircraft fuels and fossil fuels used for agriculture as well as some trade-exposed, energy intensive industries would be exempted from the tax.

Washington state Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, opposed Inslee’s proposal describing any carbon tax as harmful to businesses.

“That just can’t happen in Washington state,” Ericksen said. “We have to push back hard.”

Inslee said he believed the state would be able to enact the tax, which he said was “hardly a new or bold idea.”

“I am optimistic about this year, and that optimism is well justified by Washington’s can-do spirit of confidence and innovation,” Inslee said.


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