Letter to the editor: Why I’m supporting Initiative 1631 on carbon pricing



I am writing to encourage support for Initiative 1631 on the November general-election ballot. This initiative would reduce air pollution and invest in clean air and water programs.

I have had the opportunity as co-chair of the Edmonds Mayors’ Climate Protection Committee to learn a great deal about factors leading to global warming and the actions we can take as community members to either increase Green House Gases (GHG) or to reduce them. Carbon pricing, such as found in this initiative, has been found to be a successful way to reduce GHG.

According to the Third National Climate Assessment the warming influence of GHG in the atmosphere has been increasing significantly over the last several decades. Long-lived GHG in the atmosphere increased their warming influence by 34 percent between 1990 and 2013. In the Pacific Northwest we can expect to experience increasing wildfire, insect outbreaks, and tree diseases that even now are causing widespread tree die-off and will probably cause additional forest mortality by the 2040s as a result GHG increases.
Because of increasing warming experts predict an increase in precipitation, also, for winter, spring, and fall, but a decrease in almost all parts of the region for summer.
Other countries have enacted carbon pricing systems successfully and had their GHG emissions drop. For instance, countries in the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme saw their GHG emissions drop by 8 percent over five years and Canada is planning to start a national carbon pricing system this year.

Initiative 1631 is a practical and affordable next step in ensuring a safe and clean environment in Washington State for our children and grandchildren. I find it consistent with both the Climate Change Acton Plan adopted by the Edmonds City Council and with Washington State’s clean air goals.

I-1631 has many of the key elements recommended for any carbon pricing system. It would:
• Enact a $15 per metric ton fee on carbon emissions by the largest polluters
• Invest the proceeds in efficiency upgrades for homes and businesses so they produce less GHG as well as save money on utility bills
• Invest the proceeds, also, in clean energy programs such as solar and wind energy, water-quality improvements, air quality, and forest health
• Have a fee increase of $2 per ton annually until the state achieves the 2035 goal of reducing overall GHG to 25 percent below 1990 levels. This would show substantial progress toward the goal of reducing GHG to 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050
• Include a 5 percent investment in local communities to prepare for future challenges caused by pollution and changing climate
• Require that federally-recognized tribes be consulted on any projects affecting tribal lands. And 10 percent of investments must have formal support from a tribal government
• Incorporate accountability by setting up a public board to:
o Oversee investments
o Ensure that at least 35 percent of those investments benefit communities hardest hit by pollution and poverty
o Put 15 percent of all clean energy investments towards assisting low-income communities to transition to a clean energy economy

This initiative is needed because, while successful in setting ambitious goals, the legislature has been unable to pass legislation to accomplish those goals. It is for that reason a broad spectrum of organizations interested in environmental and public health have come together in support of this initiative. Over 250 organizations support I-1631 including those that represent scientists, environmental and clean energy advocates, working families, communities of color, health professionals, businesses, faith leaders, and tribal nations.

I know that the opponents criticize this initiative as a regressive tax. However, the initiative takes specific steps to be fair to residents of Washington state, specifically workers in carbon producing industries and low-income communities. As the organizers point out, this is a fee rather than a tax because funds collected go directly towards solving the problem of pollution and the fee is paid by the biggest corporate polluters.

Is it perfect? Probably not. But the time for delay has long passed.

Climate change is the challenge of our generation. It is incumbent on us to start to heal the impacts of years of industrialization so that we can pass along to the next generations a world they can live and flourish in.

Support for the initiative is one way for each of us to commit to reducing our GHG. It is action we can take personally and encourage our friends and family to do. I ask you, with all urgency, to support this initiative and urge others around you to do so also.

Cynthia Pruitt

20 Replies to “Letter to the editor: Why I’m supporting Initiative 1631 on carbon pricing”

  1. India and China are the two biggest carbon emitters, yet the Paris Accord didn’t require them to reduce their emissions. Until they’re required to do something, I’m not willing to pay higher taxes to drive my economy car.


    1. A US citizen produces 2.4 times as much CO2 as a Chinese citizen, and around 10 times that of the average Indian citizen. India invests twice as much as the USA in renewables as a proportion of GDP, and China, well over 3 times.


      1. If there were an index that could adjust for standard of living, such as PPP, then the average Chinese Citizen certainly does pollute more than the average American. The average Haitian that cuts down all their trees to cook their food produces less CO2 than the average American. The US spends more per capita than most of the world on healthcare (which is a tragedy to some), but we also spend more per capita on K-12 education (which isnt a tragedy to the same). No one is lauding Haiti for not polluting. No one is lauding North Korea on how cheap their socialized medicine is. The fact is, policy-making needs trust, and it’s been squandered when fake solutions are advocated for intangible problems. Interesting statistical fact: 0% of the plastic in the ocean is from Edmonds straws.


    2. China is the world leader in clean energy technology. India has announced a ban on the internal combustion engine by 2030. They both signed the Paris Climate Accords.

      They look at us and say, American’s are polluting unnecessarily. India pollutes because it has no options yet, although they will be moving fast on solar energy.


  2. How many companies and organizations will be exempt from these rules/laws? Another scheme to tax us to create more government bureaucracy. Follow the Benjamin$ and see who gets rich off this scam !!


    1. TransAlta is exempt because it is already doing what Initiative 1631 wants. TansAlta is implementing its plan to clean up the place, mitigating impacts for displaced workers, and investing in clean energy such as a 1000 acre solar farm on top of its coal pit mine.


  3. The best rebuttal to this is an article by Bob Wallace, printed in the Puget Sound Business Journal on August 24, 2018. The article says in part, “The initiative would set up a 15 member ‘uber-committee’ of 14 people all appointed by America’s greenest governor, Jay Inslee, plus his lands commissioner. It creates an Economic and Justice panel; a Clean Water and Healthy Forests Panel, and gives directives for many state agencies like Department of Natural Resources, Agariculture and Commerce to devote staff, resources and regulations to the cause. It gives these guys unbridled latitude to spend billions on whatever goofball ideas they or their constituents come up with in the name of environmental wonderfulness. But there is nothing that requires any of these expenditures and regulations to deliver measurable results. The proposal is long on platitudes………” with little else. Just more bureaucracy to stick it to an already over taxed populous.


  4. CO2 is not pollution. The planet is near to the LOWEST carbon-dioxide levels in it’s entire geological history.

    The earth is actually suffering from not enough CO2 in the atmosphere. Due to the relatively modest increases in atmospheric CO from human activity over the last 100 years, the planet is actually getting greener.

    Methane should be controlled. A methane tax is maybe prudent and should be evaluated on it’s own merits. CO2 hysteria is unscientific.


    1. I looked at the articles you cited. Apparently you read just enough to find some support for your position. This is a direct quotation from your second source: “While rising carbon dioxide concentrations in the air can be beneficial for plants, it is also the chief culprit of climate change. The gas, which traps heat in Earth’s atmosphere, has been increasing since the industrial age and is continuing to reach concentrations not seen in at least 500,000 years.”


      1. Bill, CO2 doesnt simply trap the earth’s heat. CO2 concentrations have been orders of magnitude higher in the past, yet the planet has gone through ice ages. There are many control loops that affect global temp, other factors such as humidity and increase tropical regions that reduce the effect of CO2 on temperature. There is no long-correlations between CO2 and global temprature. Short-term, as ice core samples show, CO2 increases FOLLOW global warming, not the other way arround, the ocean, as an example, outgas CO2 AFTER temprature rises. Climate Change has always been happening. 🙂


        1. Temperature and CO2 are non-sequitur and the Earth is at near the LOWEST CO2 levels in geological history:

          The Ocean is a CO2 battery, and it absorbs and releases CO2. Ice core samples prove that CO2 increases after temperature rises, meaning there is no direct causality between CO2 and temperature. Below is what a retraction of that misunderstanding looks like, as climatologists are struggling with what is arguably a difficult field of study.

          The Southern Hemisphere is showing the COLDEST days on the “human” record. Again, below is what a retraction looks like, an attempt to explain failed predictions.

          Penguins die due to too much ice:

          Arctic ice loss trend already reversed four years ago, likely to have ice growth year over year again:


  5. Its a money grabbing rediculous scheme. How are they going to give us more “green?”
    By creating more government employees? Are you kidding? More employees that can “take” your property say if you live out of town and want to sell it, and now it becomes an easy way for them to immanent domain it? HOw? By saying we need more “green” creeks (if you have one on your property) or “trees” they need more oxygen.(Now allowing you to be able to harvest your own trees). PS those two items I just listed are already happening. Now, that opens up an easy water rights grab doesn’t it? The list goes on and on.
    Vote NO…No new taxes, POLITICIANS!!
    We the people need to just VOTE NO…


    1. You’re right. Government has been a horrible steward for the environment. Just like government pushed bad food-science on us (like the food pyramid), government has funded a lot of bad environmental-science. We need bottle and plastic redemption systems, we need checks on methane – not CO2. Government, where involved, should apportion pollution taxes to cleanup costs, not tax us all for driving to work and use new revenues just to pay the salary of new bureaucrats.


    2. A Chinese company is expecting to get eminent domain over many Washington landowners to haul fracked gas from Canada in a pipeline to a methanol in plant in Kalama to be shipped to China.


      1. Don, you’re making a great argument against both eminent domain and NAFTA, and for energy independence. That’s part of Trump’s platform.


        1. FYI, Don Steinke is a Sierra Club ‘activist’ so don’t expect rationality. He spams every article on this subject with the same rhetoric. Lives in Vancouver but is commenting on an article on My Edmonds News..?


        2. The Sierra Club isn’t all bad of course. I donated money to them a couple times to buy woodland as a reserve. Private property ownership and respecting property rights is how conservation is actually done, not regulatory schemes like straw bans. Trees absolutely love CO2. I’m floored that the Sierra Club doesn’t know the basics.


  6. IT is a regressive tax not a fee Inslee is supposed to protect the poor.All this does is make him look good in his run for


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