Initiative 1631 - Protect Washington Act

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Initiative 1631 is a controversial attempt to initiate carbon pricing in the State of Washington through an energy tax on the 2018 Ballot. It would have been the first carbon tax in the United States.

Notes

  • Creates a new "clean up pollution" fund based on a carbon fee (p2)
    • Creates an oversight board to review and approve the plan and rules
    • Requires that 35% of the fund be applied to "pollution and health action areas"
    • Requires that 10% of the fund be to projects formally supported by an Indian Tribe
    • All funds in the account must be used for the stated purposes (can legislature raid the account?)
  • Assigns 70% to an account that invests in project to reduce carbon emissions through conservation and transition to non-fossil energy sources. (p4)
    • Funds will be granted to state agencies, local governments, tribes, non-profits, or for-profit companies based on a competitive process.
    • Assigns RCO to administer the funds
    • Assigns Commerce to write and update a plan and rules in consultation with other actors
    • Requires a minimum of 15% of the fund be spent on programs to reduce energy cost impacts to people with lower incomes
    • Creates a fund to support worker transition from fossil fuels
    • Allows utilities to participate in an approved credit system as an alternative to the fee (p11)
  • Assign 25% to an account focused on water supply and forest impacts from climate change (p16)
    • Assigns Ecology, PSP, WDNR, RCO, and WDFW to develop procedures criteria and rules for water projects.
    • Assigns WDNR to develop performance based criteria for competitive distribution for forest management.
  • Assigns 5% of fund to Community preparedness, including disaster preparation, relocation, fire suppression, and education. (p19)
    • WDNR and WSPI are assigned
    • It provides $200k per year to each Indian Tribe that applies to this fund.
  • The initiative specifies that once project are competitively selected for performance, then there will be preferential investment for: use of low carbon materials, high labor standards, reduction of worker pollution exposure, reduction of travel, multiple-benefit projects. (p20)
  • The fund is supported by a pollution fee. (p21)
    • The fee starts at $15/ton and increases $2/ton per year, adjusted for inflation.
    • When the states 2035 reduction goal is met, the fee becomes fixed.
    • Ecology is assigned to set carbon content by fuel type, and may only be assessed once over a unit of energy. The fees may be assumed by a local actor that is accessing grid energy.
    • The fee may be used to leverage bonds.
  • The fee has exemptions, reported necessary to meet federal and state requirements. (p21) The fee does not apply to:
    • fuel in the gas tank of vehicles entering the state.
    • fuel sold outside the state (Indian reservations are not "outside the state")
    • fuel sold to a light and power business to supply electricity (!)
    • Currently exempt fuels under RCW 82.38.080 (agency vehicles and public and private mass transit systems)
    • Fuels used directly by an "Energy-intensive trade exposed sector" of the economy. ("including glass, steel, metal casting, pulp and paper, aluminum, and chemicals, employ highly energy-intensive processes")
    • Aircraft and maritime fuels
    • Because of federal law, the state must negotiate fuel taxes on Indian reservations.
    • Fuel used for agricultural purposes.
    • Coal plants that are already planned to close.
  • The initiative establishes an oversight board of 15 members (p24)
    • The governor appoints (5) the chair and 4 "at large" positions one of which must be a tribal rep, and one must represent vulnerable "pollution and health action areas".
    • The co-chairs of the six advisory panels
    • (4) are agency directors of Ecology, RCO, Commerce, and Commissioner of Public lands
    • Directors of Health, transportation and SVPI are non-voting.
  • The Governor appoints three panels for each of the three accounts, co-chaired by business and labor reps and no greater than 9, with "expertise in carbon reduction programs". (p29)
  • Commerce performs a comprehensive effectiveness review every 4 years. (p31)