Washington voters fail initiative to fee carbon producers

JAYCE CARRAL, Evergreen reporter

Initiative 1631, which aimed to put a fee on pollution in Washington and was commonly known as the “carbon tax” initiative, was turned down by state voters Tuesday night.

I-1631 failed with 62.5 percent of Whitman County voting against it versus 37.5 percent supporting. Statewide the initiative faced a tighter margin, with 56.3 voting against and 43.7 percent supporting.

If passed, the initiative would have cost businesses $15 for every ton of carbon produced, said Jim Dawson, regional field director for Yes On 1631.

He said that money would have gone toward addressing climate change.

“It’s a fee, not a tax,” Dawson said. “A fee is where you have to spend the money solving the problem that the fee is being charged for. [The money] goes towards addressing carbon pollution, forest fires and mitigating climate change.”

Opponents of the initiative, No on 1631, have said carbon producers will not be the ones paying the fee. Instead, consumers of the products produced by the organizations are more likely to pay the fee via higher prices and taxes of those products.

Nick Abraham, communications director for Yes on 1631, said climate change will only worsen and the group will continue to push for stronger environmental regulation.

“We are going to continue this fight,” Abraham said.