Carbon Tax Whacked in Washington

by John McClaughry

One item of interest from last week’s  election was the decisive rejection of a carbon tax by voters in Washington State. As in Vermont, the carbon tax was promoted as a tool to combat the menace of climate change.

As reported in the Wall Street Journal, “the proposal would have imposed a new tax on gasoline and other fossil fuels and cut the state’s sales tax and taxes on manufacturers, while giving tax credits to low-income earners. It garnered only 41.5% of the vote after encountering opposition from some environmental groups as well as energy companies and large power users.”

“The Sierra Club, the Union of Concerned Scientists and some other environmental groups said they opposed it because they didn’t expect it to boost renewable energy. They also said the mix of tax increases and cuts would be a net negative for the state financially. Opponents pointed to an August analysis by the state Office of Financial Management that predicted the measure would reduce state revenue by $797 million in the first six years.”

The Washington Initiative was designed to be revenue neutral. By contrast, the Vermont carbon tax proposal is not revenue neutral. It proposed to grab ten percent of the revenues to subsidize renewable energy and weatherization projects, a net tax increase.

With Gov.-elect Phil Scott’s post-election reiteration of his vow to veto a carbon tax, VPIRG’s allies in Montpelier must be very discouraged.

– John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute. 

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

charles Gross November 18, 2016 at 4:23 am

If a carbon tax fixed all our environmental ills I would vote for it, advocate for it and stay up way past my bedtime. Of course it does nothing to reduce greenhouse gas on a global scale and is a horrible idea. What would it accomplish? It would impose a regressive penalty on those who have to drive in order to make a living (almost everyone). It would drive business out of this tax happy place. Folks living anywhere near the NH border would never buy gas in Vermont. Finally, it would make us look like the dumbest people on the face of the earth.


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The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.

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