Vote Yes On I-732 to Start Addressing Climate Change NOW

No piece of legislation is perfect, but this measure would be a huge first step toward finally grappling with global warming.

Few who care about climate change deny how urgent the crisis is; the question remains how we can most effectively tackle it. I-732 would tax the use of fossil fuels (for most, that’d mean a slightly higher price at the pump and home heating costs), then return that money to taxpayers in the form of cuts in sales taxes, business taxes, and an as-yet-unfunded state tax rebate for low-income working families. It is, in short, a “revenue-neutral” carbon tax, an economic concept that has worked to reduce emissions in Vancouver, B.C., and which is now being implemented across Canada. The major environmental groups that oppose I-732 say it does not do enough. It relies on market forces to drive down emissions, rather than using the money from a carbon tax to invest in renewable energy. It does little for the low-income communities of color most affected by carbon pollution and climate change. They also point to suspicions that I-732 could become revenue-negative, rather than revenue-neutral, and cost the state money in the end. These are legitimate concerns. But we believe, like the Sightline Institute, an environmental think tank that closely analyzed the measure, that I-732 is revenue-neutral, “to the best of anyone’s ability to forecast it.” And as for the measure’s effect on low-income communities, reducing the sales tax and funding an unfunded state tax credit is nothing to sneeze at. But the real reason we’re voting for I-732 is that we believe this is not an either/or decision. It is not the only way to combat climate change in this state, and it will not be the last. We understand the fear that passing a revenue-neutral carbon tax now could eliminate the political will to pass a revenue-positive one in the future. But Washington state has rarely had the political will to pass any kind of revenue-positive tax increase; neither has the legislature demonstrated the will to pass state climate policy. Sure, I-732 is a compromise. It’s also a way to do something—now.

Read the rest of Seattle Weekly’s endorsements for the 2016 general election here.

More in News & Comment

Photo by Jessica Spengler/Flickr
Budget Proposal Would Jeopardize Washington’s Food Assistance Program

Policy analysts say Trump’s plan to slash SNAP’s funding would push people further into poverty.

2017 People’s Tribunal, organized by Northwest Detention Center Resistance. Photo by Sara Bernard.
Immigrant Rights Community Responds to Allegations Against Seattle ICE Attorney

Activists say that Monday’s charges further vindicate their fight against the organization’s tactics.

Washington State Capitol. Photo by Nicole Jennings
Washington May Soon Teach Sexual Abuse Prevention in Schools

The State Legislature is considering training aimed at improving child safety.

Freedom, Hate, and a Campus Divided

Last weekend’s Patriot Prayer event cast doubts on claims of openness by UW College Republicans.

State Legislators Look to “Ban the Box”

The House of Representatives votes to end questioning criminal history on job applications.

Dennis Peron. Illustration by James the Stanton
The Cannabis Community Mourns Activist Dennis Peron

The grandfather of medicinal marijuana was 72.

Seattle school bus drivers ended a nine-day strike that affected more than 12,000 students. Photo by Melissa Hellmann
Seattle Schools Still Seeking Future Options After Bus Drivers End Nine-Day Strike

As the yellow bus service resumes, the district continues plans to attract more contractors.

UW’s campus may be getting bigger. Photo by Joe Mabel/Flickr
Community Members Raise Concerns About UW’s Expansion Plans

The university’s growth plan faces pushback due to environmental, housing, and neighborhood issues.

Seattle will soon vacate misdemeanor marijuana convictions. Photo courtesy of Bob Doran/Flickr
Seattle Moves to Clear Marijuana Misdemeanor Convictions

The mayor and city attorney’s policy change could impact hundreds convicted before weed legalization.

Most Read