Andeavor, owner of an Anacortes refinery, is the biggest donor, so far, contributing $1.66 million to defeat the carbon fee ballot measure

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Though the November election is still three months away,  more than $4.5 million already has been raised by supporters and opponents of a proposed carbon fee that the Washington Secretary of State’s office has certified for the fall ballot.

State Public Disclosure Commission records show that proponents currently have the fundraising edge, bringing in more than $2.7 million as of Monday with contributions that include a $525,000 cash contribution from the Nature Conservancy.  Opponents have raised $1.7 million, with most of that money coming from $1.66 million in contributions  from Andeavor (formerly Tesoro), which operates an oil refinery in Anacortes.

The initiative by the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy would create an escalating state carbon “fee” on most fossil-fuels emission, and invest the revenue in clean energy, clean water, forests and other projects that seek to slow or help cope with climate change.

The ballot measure’s carbon fee would start at $15 a metric ton of carbon, which would add an estimated 14 cents to the cost of a gallon of gasoline. The fee would rise annually by $2 per ton of carbon emission, plus the rate of inflation.

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Last Thursday, Secretary of State Kim Wyman announced that the measure — Initiative 1631 — had qualified for the November election.

The campaign contributions — which do not include pledges — are expected to grow substantially in the weeks ahead to finance social media and campaign ads.

The measure is  receiving national attention during a midterm election when the Trump Administration is pulling back from federal efforts to combat climate change. Meanwhile searing temperatures and fierce western fires underscore what scientists say is the growing likelihood of extreme weather events as the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases rises in the atmosphere.

Washington also had a measure to put a price on carbon emissions on the  ballot in November 2016, and it went down to defeat. That measure would have imposed a carbon tax, which proponents sought to structure as revenue neutral through reductions in other taxes.