The Carbon Tax is Dead...For Now

Mar 2, 2018

The carbon tax is dead. Long live the carbon tax.

Yesterday, the Senate sponsor of SB 6302, which would have put a tax on energy-related CO2 emissions, announced the bill was dead for the session. As we wrote, the tax would have added 12 cents to the price of a gallon of gas, increasing to 30 cents per gallon by 2029. In total, the carbon tax would have increased household costs by about $175 per year.

Ultimately, however, it couldn’t get the votes, even with Democratic majorities in the House and Senate and never received a vote on the floor of either chamber. Democrats have promised to move forward on other climate bills, including one that increases the mandates for renewable energy in Washington state.

Although the carbon tax is dead in the legislature, Washington voters will likely have their say this fall. Left-wing environmentalists have said they will put an initiative on the ballot. Groups like The Nature Conservancy, which is organizing the initiative drive, have already warned that the cost of their initiative will be much higher than the legislative proposal. Additionally, while the legislative proposal carved out many energy-intensive industries in Washington – which is both good and bad – the initiative will likely protect fewer industries, increasing the risk that they leave Washington state for locations that are more regulatorily friendly.

This is good news, for now. In an effort to win votes, the bill had become a Christmas tree upon which lobbyists and special interests could hang their requests for subsidies. It is not, however, the last word on carbon taxes this year.