Bill Gates Endorses 1631!

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  1. Roger Rabbit #

    It’s not surprising that Gates endorsed this, because a carbon tax is one of the key strategies for fighting climate change. But I reluctantly voted against I-1631. Here’s why. (1) What I’ve read on the subject suggests that 80% of a carbon tax’s impact on climate change results from reducing coal emissions, but Washington is one of the greenest states, with very low coal dependence, which diminishes the effectiveness of a carbon tax here. (2) The other big target of the carbon tax, vehicle emissions, is unlikely to much affected by I-1631, which effectively is an additional tax on gasoline and diesel. Most people are locked into the cars they presently own, people who have to drive will continue driving, and the oil companies will simply pass the tax through to consumers. It’s a very regressive tax that will hurt the poor, especially farmworkers and low-wage workers in eastern Washington, where housing and jobs are often separated by long driving distances. The solution here is better vehicle designs and shifting to electric cars, which must occur on the corporate level, and won’t happen by burdening our most economically vulnerable neighbors with another regressive tax. (3) Unlike most carbon tax proposals, I-1631 doesn’t provide rebates to low-income households who will be hurt by the new tax. Instead, the money will finance spending on new projects, some of which arguably have little to do with combatting climate change. Sadly, I-1631 is little more than a tax increase to support the spending wishlist of its authors. What America needs is a national strategy to reduce greenhouse emissions, and a properly structured and administered nationwide carbon tax that returns money to individual consumers through rebates or tax credits to reward environmentally responsible behavior potentially could be an important component of such a strategy. Unfortunately, there will be no federal climate strategy under the Trump administration, and the desire by climate activists to take action at the state level is understandable. But we shouldn’t pass an ineffective initiative that comes at a high social cost just to look like we’re doing something. We will serve ourselves better by sending I-1631 back to the drawing board and making it better, and laying plans to work for real progress on the federal level after the Trump bonfire has burned itself out.

    Update: I’m not the only liberal opposed to I-1631. So is John Servais, a well-known Whatcom County activist and blogger. Read his comments here: