A public hearing on Gov. Jay Inslee’s proposal to tax fossil fuel emissions takes place Tuesday in Olympia. A coalition of environmental groups is urging people to go and organizing carpools to ensure a strong turnout.
They say the governor’s carbon tax is just one of at least three climate policies they want to see action on this session. And two groups have new polling data to back that up.
The groups say Inslee’s carbon tax, which would impose a $20-a-ton price on carbon emissions that would go up over time, is a good step forward but not enough. The think tank Climate Solutions teamed up with Audubon Washington to study the feasibility of two additional policies.
The first is a transition to 100 percent clean electricity fuels by 2045. It would require electric utilities to phase out coal-generated electricity by 2030 and phase in generation from solar, wind, hydroelectric and other clean and renewable resources.
The other policy is a so-called Clean Fuel Standard, requiring oil refineries and distributors to reduce carbon pollution in their fuels by 10 percent, for example, by mixing in biodiesel. It would be administered by the state Department of Ecology and include regulations to encourage more use of electricity and natural gas for transportation.
Washington is the only remaining jurisdiction on the west coast of North America without such a policy.
For both of these proposals, the polling commissioned by Audubon and Climate Solutions showed strong public support, of 66 and 65 percent, respectively. Likewise, 46 percent said they would be more likely to support their state legislator if they voted for 100 percent clean fuels in the 2018 legislative session. Forty-five percent said they would be more likely to support a state legislator who backed the creation of a Clean Fuel Standard.
“What we have seen in a range of polling is that because voters desire for action on clean energy and climate is so broad, they are open to approaches that involve multiple legislative actions that could be taken to achieve these goals,” he said.
“They don’t believe there’s only one path to go down and they tend to see these policies as being complimentary to one another.”
And the groups say they’re all needed to have maximum impact and achieve meaningful carbon reductions, such as meeting target levels recommended by the University of Washington’s Climate Impacts Group.