Carbon Washington is going ahead with its carbon-tax Initiative 732 instead of bowing out in favor of a competing climate proposal.
Carbon Washington is going ahead with its carbon-tax Initiative 732 after all, instead of bowing out in favor of a competing climate proposal also aimed at the 2016 fall ballot.
In an announcement on its campaign website, co-founder Yoram Bauman said the gap was too big to close with the Alliance for Clean Jobs and Energy, a coalition of environmental and other groups that had hoped to make common cause with I-732 proponents to create the alternative measure.
The I-732 campaign made the decision Wednesday night.
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“After almost 3 hours it became clear that the Executive Committee would not accept the alternative proposal in its current form and that there was no chance of modifying the alternative proposal in the very short time frame remaining that would change the Executive Committee’s decision,” Bauman wrote.
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Instead, I-732 backers said they will turn in Wednesday the last of more than 350,000 signatures gathered, many by volunteers, to certify the initiative to the Legislature next session. Lawmakers could either pass the measure or send it to a public vote next fall.
I-732 would cut sales and business taxes commensurate with a tax on carbon pollution in a revenue-neutral approach to attacking the single largest cause of climate warming.
The Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy is proposing a carbon fee that would raise money to pay for clean and alternative energy programs, among other things.
Lisa MacLean, alliance director, said Wednesday hopes were building that I-732 backers would not turn in their signatures and stand down to forge a new partnership.
She could not be reached for comment Thursday as to what the alliance will do now.
The debate among I-732 supporters in recent weeks over whether to join forces with the alliance was invigorating for the campaign, said Bauman, who counted more than 700 new emails in his inbox Thursday morning.
The energy of the campaign built through the signature-gathering process has surprised many — even him, Bauman said — and was part of what made leaders of the initiative want to press on.
“Part of our project is we are definitely working on climate change, but we are also working on democracy,” said Kyle Murphy, co-director of the campaign. “In many ways we are reclaiming the initiative space for citizens and that is a huge democratic win. … We have a responsibility to the people who gathered the signatures for this, and the people who signed.”
Recent polling indicated a carbon fee that pays for clean energy and energy efficiency programs, as well as forest and watershed restoration, would have a better chance with voters, Bauman wrote on the initiative’s website as I-732 backers were evaluating whether to push on.
The alliance’s approach also was looking more likely to attract the big money needed to battle an opposition campaign expected from the fossil-fuel industry.
But in the end, I-732’s leadership decided theirs was the better policy, and they felt loyal to the volunteers who helped get their measure to the ballot.
Murphy said he and other campaign workers are excited about the next phase of campaigning for support for the measure in the Legislature.
As an initiative to the Legislature, the I-732 campaign needs 246,372 valid signatures from voters by the end of the year.
The decision by I-732 leaders to press on wasn’t what some wanted to hear. “I am disappointed but not surprised,” said Alan Durning, executive director of the Sightline Institute, a Seattle think tank.
“It’s hard for leaders to redirect the tide of hundreds of volunteers and supporters. Unfortunately, this decision by CarbonWa’s leaders will make it even more challenging to win a charge on carbon polluters in 2016.”
Supporters of a charge on carbon are concerned that there will be only one campaign for the cause — not two.
“I can’t see any way that if this kind of fractiousness continues into the next year that we can win a ballot initiative,” Patrick Mazza, a longtime climate activist and editor of the Cascadia Planet blog said in an interview. “We already face tremendous opposition.”