OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday unveiled details of his latest effort to get legislative approval on a new tax on carbon emissions from fossil fuels.
Under bills introduced in the House and Senate, a proposed tax of $20 per metric ton of carbon emissions would start on July 1, 2019 and increase annually by 3.5 percent over inflation.
The tax would raise about $1.5 billion over the first two years and an estimated $3.3 billion over the next four years. Half of the money from the tax — which would be paid by power plants and fuel importers but would ultimately affect consumers — would go into efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as programs to expand opportunities for renewable energy at both homes and utilities, and research of clean energy technology. An additional 35 percent would go into flood management and storm water infrastructure, and would also be used to reduce risks of wildfires.
Some money would offset taxes to eligible business and help low-income families.
The measure includes several exemptions, including aviation fuel and fossil fuels used in agriculture. Policy staff for Inslee said that the impact on consumers from the tax would range from a 4 to 5 percent increase in electricity, a 9 to 11 percent increase in natural gas, and a 6 to 9 percent increase in gasoline.
Previous plans to charge a fee for carbon pollution did not gain traction in the Legislature in previous sessions, including last year, and in 2016 voters rejected a ballot measure on a carbon tax. Democratic leaders in the House and Senate haven’t strongly embraced the idea in recent comments on the issue.