Voters in the state of Washington will consider in November whether to enact a tax on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions through Initiative 732.
The ballot measure would tax carbon emissions at $25 per metric ton and be phased in over a period of two years. Each year after reaching the $25 level, the tax would increase by 3.5% plus the rate of inflation.
Initiative 732 (the Washington Carbon Emission Tax and Sales Tax Reduction) would also lower the sales tax from 6.5% to 5.5% and offer rebates to low income families of up to $1,500 to offset the carbon tax. In addition, the business and occupation tax on manufacturers would be reduced.
Proponents of the measure claim that it will prove to be revenue neutral, but will reduce in-state utilization of fossil fuels and in the process decrease CO2 emissions.
A group called “No on 732” asserts that the measure will increase household electricity costs by 20%
Resources for the Future (RFF) Fellow Dallas Burtraw said in a Sept. 21 blog post that he expects the price impact will be more manageable. Washington has a growing fleet of renewable energy reserves as well as hydroelectric resources.
“In summary, I expect the change in electricity price to be close to the average change in generation cost reported above, that is about 6 to 7 percent of the average price of electricity,” Burtraw said.