Preface: I’ve got some talks and comedy shows coming up this week in eastern Washington (Twisp, Omak, Ellensburg, Moses Lake, Walla Walla) so if you’re in that neighborhood check out the details.
Amazing news continues to pour in from Oregon, where the Northwest Economic Research Center at PSU released a report on Carbon Tax and Shift: How to Make it Work for Oregon’s Economy. “A carbon tax is an efficient way to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions — you tax what you want less of,” said Tom Potiowsky, NERC’s director and professor and chair of PSU’s Department of Economics. “With a policy that uses the revenue from a carbon tax to reduce other taxes, Oregon could accelerate the process of reducing those emissions while still supporting a vibrant economy.” Everybody should read this report, and not just because I helped out on it a bit. (The real heroes are the folks at PSU and at the Oregon Environmental Council.) Last week BC Environment Minister Terry Lake joined Potiowsky to testify before the Oregon Legislature, which is considering 3 carbon tax bills and a carbon tax study bill.
Good news in Washington State, too: the State Senate approved a study bill to identify cost-effective ways to reduce carbon emissions. The bill specifically includes “a review of reduction strategies being implemented… on the west coast [and] in neighboring provinces in Canada” (e.g., BC’s carbon tax) and was passed by a 37-12 vote that included support from 12 Republicans. (Ten Republicans and two Democrats voted No.) The bill is very likely to pass the State House and receive the governor’s signature, in which case the study itself is slate to be finished by October 15, 2013.
There’s even an interesting bit of news nationally: Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer and three colleagues from the House and Senate released draft carbon-pricing legislation and are soliciting feedback on it. The deadline for providing feedback is Friday April 12.
On the transportation front here in Washington: Transportation Issues Daily has the latest on the transportation package, including Inslee’s support for taking action. In past updates I wrote that the odds of a transportation bill passing this session are low, but it’s still alive and kicking, and Jim Lazar notes that “The supreme court decision (50% + 1) for taxes makes the odds MUCH higher.” Unfortunately we have not had much luck after our January op-ed at getting a carbon tax injected into the transportation conversation, but we will keep trying! (If a transportation bill does pass that is road-heavy and doesn’t include a carbon tax, I will personally oppose it, and I think many others on this list will also, but an informal poll of CarbonWA supporters indicated that as a group we should focus on promoting our positive agenda and not get distracted by opposing a roads-heavy transportation bill.)
On the education front here in Washington: a group of mostly Republican State Senators is trying to get $300m more for higher education, which is a top priority of the business community. “Senate leaders declined to explain how they would pay for the proposal. Lawmakers already face more than a $1 billion shortfall in the next two-year budget cycle and are separately under court order to expand funding for K-12 education.” Hmm… how about a carbon tax? :)
Finally, on the revenue-neutral front: I’m writing up a revenue-neutral option, stay tuned for more on that!