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Cliff Mass: We share responsibility to reduce carbon footprint

Cliff Mass believes that fossil fuels play a significant role in climate change, but dismisses a recent study as highly exaggerated. (File photo)

Washington’s carbon footprint may not be as small as some make it seem.

Combine aircraft from Boeing with the possibility of new coal export terminals and there’s a recipe for a much more harmful economy.

That’s why University of Washington Atmospheric Sciences Professsor Cliff Mass wants a carbon tax.

“There are folks that argue that [because] Washington state is such a small part of the global CO2 problem, we should not worry about it,” Mass writes. “But everyone is a small part of the problem, which can only be solved by everyone doing their bit.

“And we are a significant part of the problem…” he added.

Carbon Washington is trying obtain signatures to send an initiative to the Legislature to put revenue-neutral tax on carbon use. It would cost about $25 per ton of carbon. It’s an effort that continues, despite the dismissal of Governor Jay Inslee’s carbon tax, much of which targeted refineries. Inslee took a cap and trade approach.

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Carbon Washington’s proposal would tax in a “revenue-neutral way” by refunding revenue gathered by that tax and reducing other taxes of a similar amount. That would reduce the state’s sales tax by 1 percent, Mass writes.

The tax “makes sense” because gas prices are low, according to Mass. A tax like this would not hurt as much as when gas goes above $4 or $5 per gallon.

“We have as much responsibility as anyone to reduce our carbon footprint,” Mass writes. “And considering our position as a leading world technological center, we have the responsibility to lead.”

Carbon Washington is trying to gather 100,000 signatures by the end of July.

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