How Washington’s latest proposed carbon fee differs from the failed I-1631
For anyone seeing that there’s yet another carbon fee being talked about in the Washington State Legislature, it might seem familiar to a recently voted-down initiative in I-1631. But for State Senator Steve Hobbs, there are key differences worth highlighting.
“We’re trying to get something that the business community can work with, and at the same time have something that can benefit of our state and address the issues of carbon,” Hobbs told MyNorthwest.
Hobbs’s proposed package would be for a 10-year, $10 billion bill for transportation, funded by a $15 per metric ton carbon fee, and an increase to the state’s gas tax.
If that number sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the exact carbon charge that I-1631 would have levied had it passed in November. The key difference for this new proposed carbon fee, though, is that the money would be specifically earmarked for a handful of measures.
“It’s mostly a transportation infrastructure package, with the carbon charge going into mass transit, and conversion of the ferry fleet into electric, along with replacement of the culverts,” Hobbs described. It would also set aside money for dealing with stormwater run-off into Puget Sound.
“If you look at it, it’s probably the biggest infrastructure packaged geared toward environmental improvement to our state,” he added. “While at the same time, it does provide quite a bit of an investment into our transportation network.”
When it comes to differentiating from I-1631, a measure that was voted down by a 56.6 to 43.4 percent margin, Hobbs sees accountability as the driving factor.
1631 had this committee that determined where the money went — I don’t do that that all, there’s accountability for the legislative process. You can see it, this money is going into ‘x.’ It’s directed. There’s no mystery in it, because you’re actually going to see it.
Hobbs is referring to a committee I-1631 would have established, that would have taken the money made from the carbon fee, and distributed it across measures with a vague environmental directive.
“1631 talked about doing these things, but never did you see ‘this amount of money is going to this project,'” he pointed out.
Moving forward, Hobbs says he’s garnered “quiet support” in the state Legislature, as he begins talking to interest groups, tribes, and unions. The goal is to have the full bill put together by mid-January.
“I think you’ll find that (this carbon fee) actually addresses the environmental problems in Washington state, creates jobs, and deals with a lot of our infrastructure problems that we currently have,” he said.