Washington voters reject carbon tax proposal

Washington voters reject carbon tax proposal
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Voters in Washington state on Tuesday rejected a proposed tax on carbon emissions that had divided environmentalists in the state. 

A ballot measure — called Initiative 732 — won only 42 percent of the vote in the state, and just one county, the Seattle Times reports

Backers of the initiative knew they faced an uphill battle in Washington, where heavy hitters in the environmental sphere — including the Sierra Club and others — came out against the ballot measure. 

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“While we did not pass the nation’s first carbon tax, many states around the country are looking at I-732 as a model and we expect a nationwide movement to take root in the years ahead,” Yoram Bauman, the founder of pro-tax group Carbon Washington, said in a statement. 

“We will look back at this as a lost opportunity to create history in Washington State, but also as a catalyst for much needed U.S. leadership on climate action.” 

Green groups broadly favor a tax on carbon emissions, but many argued the Washington measure wasn’t the right way to do it. 

Opponents were concerned about the initiative’s impact on poor residents in the state, as well as the fact the measure would not fund green energy programs there. Fossil fuel and other industry groups had also lined up against the proposal. 

“The only way to combat climate change fast enough is to both cut pollution and invest in clean energy solutions like wind and solar power,” the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy, a state group made up of conservation and labor organizations, said in a statement. 

“And doing it right includes investing in communities and workers hardest hit by pollution and the transition off dirty fossil fuels. For a solution that can last, disadvantaged communities and workers need to see themselves in our clean energy future.

Supporters of the plan said it should spur more conversation on carbon taxes around the country. 

“While tonight’s outcome is disappointing, Audubon [Society] members and supporters all across Washington rose to the occasion and said yes to a cleaner, better future,” Gail Gatton, executive director of Audubon Washington, said in a statement. 

“We have awakened a sleeping giant, and we look forward to continuing the fight for commonsense climate solutions for birds and for people.”