Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Multi-billionaire Bill Gates is apparently OK with the idea of his domestic energy bills rising a little, if Washington State votes to approve a new carbon tax.
The 2018 bill ditches the concept of “revenue neutrality”, an attempt to protect poor people from the impact of energy price hikes. A similar bill in 2016 was defeated because of green left wing opposition to helping the poor.
Washington eyes nation’s first state carbon tax to combat global warming
“It could be a game-changer in the fight against climate change,” the executive director of the Sierra Club said.
Nov. 1, 2018 / 12:15 PM GMT+10
By James Rainey
Initiative 1631 has inspired record spending, feisty debate and the intervention of powerful interests — from oil companies to Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates to former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Two years after Washingtonians rejected a similar measure, an early-October poll showed the new carbon tax standing right at the majority needed for passage. In a Crosscut/Elway Poll completed Oct. 9, Initiative 1631 received support from 50 percent of those surveyed, with 36 percent opposed and 14 percent undecided. Among likely voters, the measure did even better, receiving 57 percent support. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 5 points
The state of Washington last voted on a carbon tax in 2016. But that measure differed in one important way from Initiative 1631. The earlier carbon tax would have been “revenue neutral” — giving residents back money raised with the carbon tax via a 1 percent cut in the sales tax and a tax credit to 460,000 of the poorest households in the state.
By keeping taxes level overall and not expanding government, backers of the 2016 measure — Initiative 732 — hoped to attract conservative voters. But a poll just before that election showed that the carbon tax drew support from only 19 percent of Republicans.
In seeking the middle path, the backers of the carbon tax lost not only conservatives but their more natural allies on the political left. Groups such as labor unions and Native American tribes complained that they felt left out of the planning, and even core environmental groups like Climate Solutions and the Sierra Club declined to back the measure.
Microsoft’s Gates, one of the top donors to the Yes on 1631 campaign, has said that it is not easy to be out in front on an issue. But, in his official endorsement of the measure, he said that leading the nation on taxing carbon pollution will make any sacrifice “worth it.”
The proponents of the measure have said it’s unclear what, if any, of the taxes levied on oil refineries and other polluters will be passed on to the public. A Seattle Times review of the measure found it initially could cost a suburban family with two cars about $240 a year, mostly from an increase in gas prices and in home cooling and heating expenses. The Washington Policy Center, a free-market think tank, found that the cost could climb to as much as $877 a year after 10 years.
Click here to see Bill Gates endorsement of the new bill.
From the Gates endorsement text;
… It is true that any fee like this may drive up the price of energy. But 1631 specifically requires that 35 percent of revenues from the fee will go back to low-income communities hit hard by pollution. Although that won’t ease the pain for everyone, it is a good step in the right direction.
If 1631 passes, it will create the first fee of its kind in the United States. Going first is never easy, but Washington has a history of pioneering new ideas. And because of all the benefits—shoring up nuclear and hydropower, enhancing the state’s role as a leader in innovation, and most of all accelerating progress on climate-change solutions—I believe it will be worth it. I am going to vote for it and, if you are eligible, hope you will too.
You couldn’t make it up – billionaires and left wing greens spitting the dummy because the 2016 attempt to introduce a punitive regressive energy tax would have used revenue raised from the tax to try to soften the impact on poor people, unlike the current 2018 plan to channel the tax revenue to green special interest groups.