Spending against carbon tax measure draws funds from two political players with sharply different takes on climate change
In the final days of the campaign season, two political players with sharply different takes on climate change joined the opposition to a state ballot measure to impose an escalating carbon tax on fossil fuels.
Koch Industries — owned by Charles and David Koch, brothers who have funded groups challenging the science of climate change — this week chipped in $50,000 to the No on 732 campaign, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission.
From the other end of the political spectrum, Van Jones, a former Obama “green jobs” adviser and climate-change activist, also weighed in against the measure. A group he founded, Rebuild the Dream, spent $10,000 to place two Facebook ads in opposition to I-732, according to a Rebuild the Dream representative.
Jones on Thursday participated in a news conference of labor and social-justice groups, including a co-founder of Black Lives Matter, opposed to the measure. He attacked Initiative 732 as a “false solution” that would blow a hole in the state budget and not raise money to invest in green jobs, clean energy and underserved communities.
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The measure seeks to reduce fossil-fuel emissions that cause climate change by pushing up the prices of energy derived from coal, oil and natural gas. The tax on gasoline would rise to about $1 a gallon sometime after 2060.
Drafters of I-732 sought to craft a revenue-neutral measure that would offset the carbon tax with reductions in sales and business taxes and tax credits for low-income residents. But a state analysis — contested by the proponents — found the ballot measure would bring at least a short-term cut in state revenue of $797.2 million over six fiscal years.
“We can come very close to being revenue neutral for a typical family,” Yoram Bauman, co-founder of the Carbon Washington campaign, said in an earlier interview.
I-732 proponents include Audubon Washington, which formed a political committee that has raised more than $1 million on behalf of the campaign.
The biggest single contribution of $250,000 came from the family of John Arnold, a billionaire who founded a hedge fund based on trading natural gas and other energy commodities and joined the Breakthrough Energy Coalition launched by Bill Gates to develop new technologies to reduce carbon emissions.
Supporters of the measure also cover a swath of the political spectrum, including actor Leonardo DiCaprio and former Washington Sen. Slade Gorton, a Republican.