Message for State Climate Policy: Lead with a Vision, Not a Tax

by Alice Kaswan | November 19, 2018

Washington State has continued to try – unsuccessfully – to pass a carbon tax, with the latest effort, Initiative 1631, losing on November 6. The state's effort to control carbon is laudable, but Washington and other states contemplating how to fill the growing federal climate policy void should consider leading with a vision for a clean energy transition rather than a politically challenging "price." An overarching vision for a low-carbon future and a public decision-making process for achieving that future could attract more support than the imposition of a stand-alone fee or tax.

States might take a page from California's book: The central pillar of the state's climate program is its multi-sector planning process for achieving progressively demanding carbon reduction targets. When California set its first legislative targets in AB 32, it set in motion an economy-wide effort to identify and assess emission reduction opportunities in every sector in the state.

State agencies collaborated to explore opportunities in the electricity sector, transportation, buildings, land use, waste management, agriculture, and more. In each of these areas, policymakers considered not only climate reductions, but more comprehensive parameters, including economic and environmental implications, both benefits and risks, with a particular focus on disadvantaged populations. The process was transparent and participatory, with multiple stakeholder meetings and numerous public hearings. The state has now produced three scoping plans; the most recent, approved in December 2017, charts a path to ...

Cleaner Waters for Washington at Long Last?

by Catherine O'Neill | August 08, 2016
The Clean Water Act instructs states and tribes to revisit their water quality standards every three years, updating them as necessary to reflect newer science and to ensure progress in cleaning up the nation's waters – to the point where people can safely catch and eat fish. Last Monday, Washington State's Department of Ecology unveiled its long-awaited update, revising standards that had been developed back in 1992. The state's rulemaking process has been marked by controversy and delay, which I ...
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