Washington state’s carbon tax crushed

The Washington Carbon Emission Tax and Sales Tax Reduction, also known as Initiative 732, was on the ballot Nov. 8 — and voters resoundingly rejected the idea of taxing the use of certain fossil fuels and fossil-fuel generated electricity.

With nearly 2 million ballots cast, the initiative was defeated 58.5 percent to 41.48 percent.

Initiative 732 would have established a tax on carbon emissions at $15 per ton per in July, which would rise to $25 in July 2018. After 2018, a 3.5 percent-plus-inflation rise would occur, reaching its final goal of $100/metric ton. The tax would have risen more slowly more slowly for farmers and nonprofit transportation providers.

The initiative was carefully designed to be revenue neutral, while nudging its citizens to use fewer fossils and lower greenhouse gas emissions. To offset the tax increases, Initiative 732 would have reduced the state sales tax from 6.5 percent to 5.5 percent, increased the Working Families Tax Credit for low-income families, and reduced the business and occupation tax rate from 0.484 to 0.001 percent.

Carbon Washington supported Initiative 732 and received $2.8 million in contributions. The opposition No on 732 campaign raised $1.4 million.

Polls commissioned close to the election showed that around 42 percent supported the initiative and 37 percent opposed it.

In the end, the 21 percent of undecided voters broke almost entirely for the opposition, at least in part because environmentalists couldn’t unite around the issue. In fact, some environmental groups decided not to endorse or fight the measure.