This last week, my Governor, Jay Inslee announced the Carbon Pollution Accountability Act. What timing, we were just talking about carbon pricing in my last action! He must have known. 🙂 Inslee’s plan aims to create a cap and trade program that aims to cover 85% of our state’s emissions, with- and this is important – no giveaway allowances to polluters. Initial giveaways that are supposed to “ease polluters” in and make the transition to carbon pricing more palatable also have the unfortunate side effect of undermining the entire point of pricing carbon in the first place, i.e., creating an economic incentive to pollute less. We’ve seen this really hobble the EU carbon market, and Inslee’s plan does not allow for it. Other important components of Inslee’s plan include subsidies back to low-income families that will be most burdened by the pricing, and the funds are proposed to be reinvested right back into state priorities that matter a great deal to our green economy- namely, education and infrastructure.
Insee does not have an easy task before him. Our Democratic representatives that tend to look more favorably on carbon pricing and addressing climate change lost ground in our mid-term elections to Republicans, and this will mean a long, uphill battle to move any legislation forward. All the more important that we reach out to our representatives and let them know this is an issue about which we care deeply.
Although as I said in my last post, I prefer the carbon tax model over carbon cap and trade, what I am for is ANY discussion and movement on carbon pricing that moves us in the right direction, so we can start internalizing these costs and making good on our state’s promise to reduce emissions. And as I also mentioned in my last post, politicians tend to favor cap and trade for its institutional certainty and longevity, plus its avoidance of the evil “tax” word. So I’m not surprised this is the route Inslee has chosen, and I want my reps to know I am thrilled that Inslee is forcing a serious discussion about carbon pricing as a way to meet our promises to the region to reduce our emissions. Here’s the letter I wrote my three reps:
Dear Senator/Representative… :
I was thrilled to hear the details this week of the Governor’s Carbon Pollution Accountability Act. As I am sure you know, the Governor’s plan is a bold and comprehensive approach to pricing carbon that does several really important things: brings accountability and cost internalization of carbon pollution back to the polluters; provides a mechanism for accelerating our transition to a clean energy economy; and provides a funding mechanism for sorely needed budgets in education and infrastructure. I was also extremely pleased to hear that the plan includes a mechanism to offset some of these costs for low-income families, so that the burden is not unduly felt by those who have fewer resources to shoulder the additional costs.
I know that you will be supportive of the Governor’s plan- it is so critically necessary to move us forward on climate change actions, and it just makes good environmental AND economic sense. I just want you to know that I as your constituent am thrilled that our state is showing leadership on climate and really trying to provide the people of Washington- and the country and the world- an example of how we can reduce our emissions and maintain a vibrant economy all at the same time. Its not one or the other. I know this will be an uphill battle with some of your colleagues to prove this obvious point- I just want you to know I am supporting you and the Governor on this commitment to move forward.
I dont kid myself that the Governor’s plan is a political long shot; opposition within and outside of the capitol will be substantial. But it is critical that our elected leaders continue to hear from their constituents that carbon pricing is essential to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, and we can no longer afford to push these strategies and solutions off to the future.