Second shot to reduce carbon

There may yet be some hope that the Legislature can pass carbon-reduction legislation this year.

With the special session well under way and little being said publicly about budget negotiations, Democrats in the House have recrafted Gov. Jay Inslee’s carbon cap-and-trade proposal in hopes of finding some Republican support by redirecting where its revenue will go but also to by allowing industry some time to ease into the program.

The proposed substitute to House Bill 1314 would set an overall cap on carbon emissions and require the state’s largest polluters to pay for every ton of carbon released. But for the first five years of the program, oil refineries, manufacturers and others would receive rebates for what they pay in. Metal and food manufacturers, paper mills and others would get a 100 percent rebate for the first five years, with reductions in the rebate to follow. The state’s refineries would get a 75 percent rebate for that term, allowing some time before those costs would have to be passed down to the gas pump.

Where Inslee had envisioned splitting the revenue between the general fund (read that as “education”) and transportation, the substitute bill proposed by Reps. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, and Larry Springer, D-Kirkland, would direct funding to a variety of programs to encourage forestry and mill jobs, protect forestlands and habitat, supplement wildfire suppression efforts and provide a Working Families Tax Rebate. But the bulk of the revenue from the carbon tax allocates $500 million to K-12 education and another $386 million as rebates back to the industries that pay the carbon tax.

To expand on the jobs issue, the carbon tax revenue would fund a $193 million program to encourage forestland owners to sell their timber to mills in the state. While recent shipments of raw logs to Japan through the Port of Everett is a sign of a recovering industry, it would have been preferable to see those logs go to state mills, such as the Hampton mill in Darrington, which struggles to find timber for its employees to mill.

While there was merit in the governor’s proposal to use the carbon tax revenue for transportation projects, the Legislature, specifically Republicans, seem content to fund the transportation budget through an increase to the gas tax. Assuming that is a method legislators will stick with, it does free up the revenue to go elsewhere. Education, jobs and a gradual approach to the carbon tax seems an appropriate mix.

Beginning to address measures that can slow climate change remains ample justification to reduce carbon. We’ll add that it also makes sense in improving air quality and having a substantial impact on the incidence of asthma and other respiratory problems in our state.

The bill likely faces Republican opposition, even with the added sweeteners. But assuming the bill passes the House, the chairman for the Senate’s energy and environment committee has promised a hearing. It’s a start.

In sponsoring a companion bill in the Senate, Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquaim, noted the bill’s multi-tasking appeal.

“This is no longer just a climate change bill. This is a rural job creation and recreational access bill that helps reduce the state’s carbon emissions,” he said.

Correction: In an earlier version of this editorial, Rep. Larry Springer’s name was misspelled. It is now correct.

Talk to us

More in Opinion

RGB version
Editorial cartoons for Wednesday, Oct. 20

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Voting thing
Editorial: Edmonds, Mukilteo school board endorsements

For Edmonds, Melissa Stepp is endorsed; for Mukilteo, Judy Schwab and Jayme Lee Vail.

Comment: Powell, at all times, remembered where he came from

A phrase from the civil rights era tied Powell to his home and reminded him of his obligations.

Comment: Pandemic, economy shifting role of grandparents

Grandparents’ proximity to the immediate family can vary, but they often play a vital child-rearing role.

Comment: GOP winning argument over voter ID, other laws

On photo ID, even Democratic voters in polls back such a provision; now Democrats are back-tracking.

Comment: China’s missile silos don’t require new arms race

The United States has enough nuclear and conventional means to confront what could be a shell game.

Voting thing
Editorial: Gregerson for Mukilteo; Redmon for Snohomish

Mukilteo voters should return Gregerson as mayor. Redmon should be promoted from the council.

Mayor Cassie Franklin delivered her 2022 budget address at Wednesday's virtual city council meeting. (City of Everett)
Editorial: Franklin merits second term as Everett mayor

In her first term, she made difficult cuts but kept essential services going during the pandemic.

The A-8 proposal for Everett City Council districts, which were approved by voters in 2018, will be presented for public input in six virtual meetings over a week starting Thursday, Sept. 10. (City of Everett)
Editorial: Everett’s future depends on voters’ council choices

With five seats on the ballot, and at least three new members, voter participation is key.

Most Read