In this year’s midterm election, Washington State proposed its second attempt at taxing carbon and greenhouse emission, known as Initiative 1631. The ballot read, “This measure would charge pollution fees on sources of greenhouse gas pollutants and use the revenue to reduce pollution, promote clean energy, and address climate impacts, under oversight of a public board.”
The initiative failed.
The initiative intended to tax $15 for every metric ton of greenhouse gas, and would increase by $2 every year. The goal was to reduce the national amount of carbon gas emission to levels that the U.S. had in 1990, and of course, to continue to lower that number that even further.
State analysis shows that in the first 5 years of this tax, taxpayers would lose up to $2.3 billion to the government. The revenue would intentionally go to three areas, “70% for air quality and energy programs and projects, 25% funds for water quality and forest health projects, and 5% for investments related to communities.”
Aside from the government benefits of this tax, one of the reasons why this initiative is extremely important in our time is the threat of climate change. The booming liberals of this generation supported the initiative. An obvious pro for I-1631 was clean air. Researchers and supporting politicians have analyzed that the initiative would have “make clean energy like wind and solar more affordable for more people, reduce over 25 million tons of pollution annually.”
Another common motivation for keeping the world healthy and safe is for the children. We want our children to be able to thrive and live their life to the fullest, and many in this generation want grandchildren and great grandchildren. Those chances decrease immensely as our planet continues to die.
There is an issue with trying to save the world through I-1631. Many individuals are struggling themselves, struggling to keep food on their table. People are going to, and need to save themselves, before they can throw their money into a community project.
Some argue that the tax will hold corporations accountable and force them to lower the pollution that their factories produce. With the initiative, there is the potential for creating more jobs for building efficient energy systems.
Although there could be more jobs if the initiative passed, they are extremely different jobs. Renewable energy is relatively new to many of us, so someone looking to go into the engineering or mechanic business would have to be retrained and learn new skills. The people we want to employ most likely are unemployed, which means that they do not have an excess of money. They cannot afford to reeducate themselves because of how our education and education funding system is set up.
The majority of Washington who voted against the initiative are mainly concerned about money. Seattle Times argued that “Climate change is a crisis needing an aggressive, coordinated response, not expensive and unaccountable spending measures like Initiative 1631. Instead, Washington should coordinate its response with other states. It should also seek a national carbon tax.”
The initiative would harm too many individuals, specifically people who cannot afford solar panels on their rooftop, or electric and hybrid transportation. “Everyone would pay more for housing, food and other goods, because higher energy prices increase their cost.”
The people that only have access to gasoline fueled cars would lose more money, due to gas tax being increased. These people are likely below or nearing the poverty line, and are cut off from many resources that are not available to them due to financial or social reasons. Implementing the tax on them would further take away their rights and options of how to live.
Plus, taxes are much costlier to families than to the big corporations that are the main contributor to carbon and greenhouse gases. “Families will pay but many large polluters will not, because of loopholes.”
The United States is the second largest contributor of environmentally harmful gas. We are going to hit a global crisis if we continue producing pollution the way we do. This is clearly an issue that everyone must contribute to mending. This should not be something to agree or disagree on. This affects the entire planet and everything that breathes. The earth is our home; it takes care of us, and we need to take care of it. Even if you do not believe in science or climate change, you could always use some fresh air.