Gov. Jay Inslee released much-anticipated details of his ambitious fossil fuel tax plan today, drawing raves from conservationists but jeers from Republicans concerned about its effects on the economy.
The proposal puts a price on carbon emissions of $20 per ton starting July 1, 2019 — a price that would increase yearly by 3.5 percent over inflation. The money raised by the tax, projected at billions, would go chiefly toward efforts to increase renewable energy and curb greenhouse gas emissions. Another fraction of the funds would go toward flood management and reducing risks of wildfires.
The tax would be paid by power plants and fuel importers, but officials estimated today that the tax could result in a 5 percent increase of residential electricity prices.
The bill also includes allowances for certain businesses, such as credits and exemptions for aerospace and agriculture.
Such concessions, though, weren’t enough to prevent a swift rebuke from Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy, Environment and Technology Committee.
“This energy tax is really a death tax on the state of Washington,” Ericksen said. “It’s death for manufacturing.”
Ericksen, who yesterday reiterated his intention to stay a Washington state senator despite federal officials claiming he was joining President Trump’s EPA, also called it “death for the middle-class families who will wind up paying the bulk of this tax.”
Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, however, championed the move in a statement today.
“It is our shared duty to ensure that our lands and waters remain healthy and productive – supporting Washingtonians not just today, but far into the future,” she said. “That starts with setting policies that effectively reduce carbon pollution. I applaud Governor Inslee and state legislators for taking up the issue of climate change.”