Opponents Of Washington Carbon Fee Ballot Measure Break Initiative Fundraising Record

In this 2016, file photo, piles of wood chips sit near the RockTenn paper mill in Tacoma, Wash. Another ambitious effort to pass a carbon tax in Washington state has faltered as both Gov. Jay Inslee and the bill's prime sponsor conceded Thursday. CREDIT: TED S. WARREN, FILE / AP PHOTO
The RockTenn paper mill in Tacoma, Wash. Past attempts to pass a carbon tax in Washington in the legislature and by ballot initiative have failed. CREDIT: TED S. WARREN / AP

Read On

The campaign against a Washington ballot measure creating a carbon pollution fee has set a fundraising record for statewide initiatives.

The “No on 1631” campaign sponsored by the Western States Petroleum Association, an oil industry trade group, has raised more than $25.8 million, according to data from the Public Disclosure Commission.

Supporters of the measure have raised about $12.5 million.

Initiative 1631 would charge large carbon emitters fees on fossil fuels used or sold in the state or electricity generated within the state. The fees would raise an estimated $2.3 billion in the first five years to fund a wide range of programs intended at cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

FULL TEXT: Read Initiative Measure 1631

Oil companies have given the bulk of opposition money, with BP America the top donor at $9.6 million.

The ‘no’ campaign breaks the previous state record of $22.45 million that was set in 2013 by the “No on 522” committee, which successfully defeated a ballot measure requiring labels on food with genetically engineered ingredients.

Philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates have together donated $1 million to the campaign in favor of the carbon tax.

Bill Gates, who co-founded Microsoft, wrote in a blog post that he would contribute to the Yes on 1631 campaign but he didn’t reveal how much.

New campaign finance records show that he and his wife have each donated $500,000 in support of the initiative. 

Opponents, including top oil companies, say it would hike gas and electricity costs and exempts too many big polluters.

Recently, I-1631 also received an endorsement from Microsoft. In a blog post, Lucas Joppa, the company’ chief environmental officer, wrote that “while there is room for debate on the details of this proposal”   the ballot measure “represents an important first step on carbon policy.”

The ‘no’ campaign recently received an endorsement from the Seattle Times editorial board. The editorial board wrote in part:

“Climate change is a crisis needing an aggressive, coordinated response, not expensive and unaccountable spending measures like Initiative 1631. Voters concerned about the environment, the cost of living and the sustainability of Washington’s economy should reject this dubious approach.”

If approved by voters, Initiative 1631 would make Washington the first state in the U.S. to impose a direct carbon fee or tax by voter initiative.

Copyright 2018 Associated Press. Additional reporting by NWPB news staff.

Related Stories:

A flatbed truck rides by as a crowd rallies at the Capitol in Salem to protest House Bill 2020. CREDIT: David Stuckey/OPB

Demonstrators Urge Republican Senators To Maintain Walkout For Rural Oregon Interests

The so-called “Stay Strong Stay Gone” rally marked the latest backlash over bills seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon. Loggers, truckers, farmers and their supporters had all come, they said, to urge 11 Senate Republicans who’ve been absent from the statehouse since last week to remain in hiding. Continue Reading Demonstrators Urge Republican Senators To Maintain Walkout For Rural Oregon Interests