Environmentalist?  Vote NO on 1631


Update, Tue, Oct 23

Cliff Mass has posted a second article on why we should vote NO on I-1631. He is getting a lot of push back from liberals but they are not arguing with his facts. They are pummeling him on his supposed motivations, or that he is not a real climate change believer. Or that he might be a closet Republican. Even that he is a racist and that explains why he is against I-1631. Yes, our liberals are personally attacking him in an effort to cause people to not believe Cliff. They are not discussing the issues of the initiative. It is a sad thing to read.

Liberals like to say Trump and Republicans and mega corporations lie to get their way. Well, liberals lie when it is beneficial to get their way also. As we are witnessing this so thoroughly in this I-1631 campaign. We liberals should be above such. We should have a respect for the truth and the facts. Isn’t that who we pretend to be?

The liberal political operatives who are slandering Cliff Mass are doing so because they will be the financial beneficiaries if I-1631 passes. And they have fooled so many good solid truth loving liberal friends of mine. If I-1631 passes then we will not have another chance to pass a good carbon tax initiative because 1631 will be the carbon tax. These groups who wrote up I-1631 and are campaigning for it are mostly the same groups who helped defeat the very good carbon tax initiative I-732 two years ago. That tax would not have benefited them. It would have benefited the environment. This I-1631 does not just have a couple minor flaws - its whole structure is to give Billions of our tax dollars every year to unelected enviros and private groups to decide how to spend. That is not a minor flaw.

Read Cliff Mass’s second article. And his first if you have not yet. Cliff is an independent thinker who cares very much for our environment.

Below posted Wed, Oct 17

​Cliff Mass, the well known University of Washington weather professor and blog writer, wrote an excellent article on why we environmentalists should vote NO on initiative 1631, the carbon tax issue.

If You Worry About Climate Change and Care About the Environment, Vote NO on I-1631.

This can be a hard decision for those committed to environmental quality as the proponents speak so glowingly of how this will help. But the actual initiative wording does not support the warm fuzzy promotion. This initiative is a deception. As a liberal and progressive and environmentalist it is sad when we liberals deceive the public for our causes.

We can do better. Washington is a green state and we should be showing others how it is done. But if we pass this very deceptive and absurd initiative then we will not have any chance to pass a good carbon tax initiative. I support a carbon tax as being an excellent way to fund real environmental needs and to encourage cleaner industries. This initiative exempts the coal fired power plants and the pulp mills and many others. As Cliff notes, this will simply raise our gasoline taxes at the pump and we will pay, not the polluters.

I’m an environmentalist, a tree hugger, and have been my entire life. I was raised that way. My father wrote articles for the magazine “Organic Gardening” in the 1950s. We had a pesticide and chemical free garden for half our back yard from which we got our table food. When we moved a block up the street to our new home in 1946, neighbors helped my father move his compost pile to our new garden. At 5 years old, I did my share. My mother read Silent Spring when it came out and encouraged us kids to read it. So, decades before the word ‘environmentalist’ was coined, I was brought up as one.

We do need a good carbon tax in Washington state. Let us not waste the opportunity to create one by approving this absurd and greedy initiative with its deceptive promises. Vote NO on I-1631. And then let’s start a real grassroots move for a truly good carbon tax initiative.

Read Cliff’s article. He covers the specifics.

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About John Servais

Citizen Journalist and Editor • Fairhaven, Washington USA • Member since Feb 26, 2008

John started Northwest Citizen in 1995 to inform fellow citizens of serious local political issues that the Bellingham Herald was ignoring. With the help of donors from the beginning, he has [...]

Comments by Readers

jim peterson

Oct 20, 2018

I love this article and iA voted no because I can see the writing on the wall higher gas prices which only hurt the pooor and do nothing to stop pollution


Kevin Covey

Oct 20, 2018


I have to respectfully disagree with John & Jim on this: as an environmentalist, I voted YES on 1631, and I’d urge all of us to.  

This is not an abstract issue that we can afford to take another swing at in a couple years or a decade. Climate change is real, is already impacting people’s lives, and failing to act NOW will cause real people very real pain and suffering. Wildfire seasons are getting longer, hotter, and smokier.  This is causing health problems for our neighbors NOW, which is why the American Lung Association, Washington Academy of Family Physicians, and Washington Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics all endorse 1631.  

I agree with Cliff Mass that a revenue neutral carbon price would be good —I’m actually a member of our local chapter of the Citizens Climate Lobby, which advocates for pricisely the kind of national policy that Cliff Mass is saying we need: a revenue neutral carbon price (and if you genuinely want to advocate for a grassroots solution, I’d encourage you to join CCL, nationally and at our monthly local meetings).  But in this election, the Citizen’s Climate Lobby is working FOR, not against, 1631.  That’s because the local version of the revenue neutral approach was on the ballot two years ago, and it failed. And it wasn’t particularly close: 59-41 statewide.

After that result, a coalition of communities that are worried about climate came together and spent two years working on a policy that has a better chance of helping the battle against climate change NOW.  That policy is 1631, and it will do an enormous amount of good in the battle against climate change. That is why I, and CCL, and so many others are urging folks to vote YES.  Who is urging people to vote no?  Big oil, and all the friends their $21 Million can buy

Are there exemptions in 1631?  Yes.  Are those exemptions well thought out?  Yes.  A big one is for a coal plant in Centralia—yes, even in Washington some of our power comes from coal!—but that coal plant is already scheduled for closure in 2025 as part of a negotiated settlement, which 1631 doesn’t want to disrupt. And once that coal plant closes, will 80% of Washington’s carbon emissions be subject to the fee?  Yes.  Don’t take my word for it—read the reporting of the Seattle Times, which has a good, objective write-up on the exemptions.   

 And I strenously object to calling 1631 greedy or deceptive.  I’m working hard to pass 1631, and I won’t benefit financially, and I’m not lying to people. The folks with the biggest financial stake in this battle are the fossil fuel industry, and they are clearly working to protect their interests by trying to convince people that it is better to oppose 0% of carbon pollution than to oppose 80% of it. If that isn’t deceptive, I don’t know what is. 

Bottom line: Climate change is happening, and happening now.  If you think we need a better solution than 1631, that’s fair—I actually do too!  But the first step is PASSING 1631, to start doing something NOW, and then continue working for the changes we need at all levels—locally, nationally, and globally—to battle climate change.  But at a time when we’re moving backwards as a nation by pulling out of the Paris accords, it is all the more critical that we lean in at the local level.

Waiting for a perfect solution to appear is not a strategy, and grassroots solutions do not grow themselves.  So look at who is endorsing YES, and who is endorsing NO, and evaluate who you think is more likely to prioritize our health and environment.  I think that’ll convince you to vote YES on 1631, and I’d love you to join us at a Citizens Climate Lobby meeting to keep pushing for solutions in the battle against climate change.


Dianne Foster

Oct 22, 2018

John,   I hope you read the many comments on Cliff Mass’s blogpost, including Bellingham’s own UW physics professor,  Abe Jacobsen.   Many of us worked hard for the carbon tax 2 years ago,  but it was voted down.   We don’t get a lot of second chances.    I’ve been listening to Cliff Mass’s radio broadcasts for years,  and he always downplays the role of climate in the most extreme weather situations.   His blog reveals Republican leanings, which I’ve always suspected.     Not saying he’s a denier,   but never happy with possible solutions.    If he can stay involved,  he could be an advisor on directing this money supply to improved forest practices and other good ideas he mentions.      Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.    This is probably our last chance.


Abe Jacobson

Oct 23, 2018

I am a colleague of Professor Mass. He is in the Atmospheric Sciences Dept, while I am partly retired but still a scientific staff in the Earth and Space Sciences Dept. The opinions below are my own and not related to my employer.

I like Cliff and often agree with his arguments, particularly when they regard scientific matters. But here, Cliff Mass wanders from science and into polemic. He is really venting  a lot of pent-up anger at the environmental community.  He was hurt and outraged when the environmental community largely dissed I-732 two years ago. I shared Cliff’s feelings about that. I supported I-732 and collected signatures for it to be placed on the ballot. But I am not letting my disappointment from two years ago veto rationality this year.

At present we have a new choice before us: Pass 1631, or kill 1631. Largely out of his anger from two years ago, Cliff Mass wants to kill 1631. He has opined in the past that we need to bring Republicans on board and do this in a bipartisan manner. But guess what? No a single Republican lawmaker has come forward. 

Here is my response to Cliff, on Cliff’s own blog:

While I do not dissent from your technical observations about I-1631, I am much more skeptical than you are that Republicans would ever adopt anything like the revenue-neutral I-732 carbon tax you prefer. 

Sure, some Republican grandees and intellectuals say nice things about a carbon tax, but those few grandees and intellectuals have zero power over the party. (If they did have some power, we would not have Trump…) These few grandees and intellectuals are largely of an ilk with the “Never Trump” crowd. And look at how effective that was…

Meanwhile, the perverse politics of the Republican party propels its politics ever more rightward, ever more toward denying any human influence over climate change. So I am afraid that your go-to refrain that we should get bipartisan solutions misses a fundamental, and deeply regrettable, fact about the Republican party. The Republican party has zero interest in long-term efforts for the public good.

Let me pose to you some simple questions:

(a) During several years of ruling the WA state senate, did the WA Republicans promote within the Senate any carbon-tax legislation? (No, they did not.)

(b) In 30 states there is wall-to-wall Republican control of state government (Texas, Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Utah, Arizona, .....) In any of those states where Republicans have unfettered control of the political agenda, did ANY carbon tax proposal get made by Republican legislators and passed by those legislators and signed by their governor? No, that did not happen in any Republican-controlled state, despite their having unfettered governing power. 

(c) Oh, yes, I almost forgot. Not only 30 states, but also a nation- the U. S. A. -is under total Republican control. Senate, House, President, Courts. Yet, in the two years of this monopoly on power, did the Republicans ruling America implement any carbon tax? No. Quite to the contrary: What they did was to spend their political capital on a huge reduction in corporate and real-estate income taxes, entirely unfunded by compensating revenues from elsewhere.

In the past, you have bemoaned the mean-spirited political atmosphere that you believe prevents Republicans from espousing 732-like legislation. You have treated Republicans like delicate flowers that need to be carefully incubated to thrive. Take away the left-wing meanness, and good things can happen. But the Republicans have thirty states, and one entire nation, under their total control, and yet what have they come up with when they have total control? Nada. 

So, like the good scientist that you are, you should consider the data and draw appropriate conclusions.



Abe Jacobson


Dianne Foster

Oct 23, 2018

Thank-you Abe and everyone for your comments.    I do hope my good friend and esteemed investigative journalist John Servais will reconsider his opinion in light of these observations.


John Servais

Oct 23, 2018

Abe has provided us a good example of why we should vote NO on I-1631.  It is a highly partisan initiative but Abe says he agrees with Cliff on all the ‘technical’ details that are so horrible.

Abe, yours is a highly partisan view.  And you assume a negative emotional motivation by Cliff Mass.  My.  You hardly touch on what 1631 does. You grant Cliff Mass that he is correct on the “technical” parts of 1631 - which is the wording of 1631.  Abe - that is not some minor techie item, that is the whole initiative.  

As most readers probably know, you are strongly involved in the local Democratic Party and as such for you to mention multiple insults of Republicans is part of your game.  But for the rest of us, we need to then ask the question - do we want to turn Billions of our tax dollars over to liberal do good groups for social activism and unspecified good deeds?  And to pay the salaries of boards, officers and staffs of environmental groups?

My answer is no.  I want my elected officials - our state legislature - to decide how to spend tax dollars.  We should put our liberal efforts into electing environmentaly savvy representatives.  Not trying to create some ad hoc government agency not beholden to citizens.  

I’m liberal like you, Abe.  But I see my liberal political friends lying a lot.  Maybe not as much as our conservative politicians. The liberals - and you - are pushing a deception (a softer word than ‘lie’) with I-1631.  A reading of the initiative reveals that.  

If we want a good carbon tax then these same groups can put one together for next year.  But given these same enviromental and social groups fought so hard against the good carbon tax I-732, I do not have hope for my liberal friends coming forth with a good carbon tax initiative.  The problem is not the Republicans.  It is the Liberals who are greedy and want us to pass a tax increase for the benefit of their own private liberal groups.  

We need a carbon tax that will address environmental needs.  I-1631 does not.  No need to pander to fear. (leave that to Trump)  We can pass a good carbon tax initiative next year if we want.  


John Servais

Oct 23, 2018

Dianne, I must disappoint you.  We liberals should be above deceptions, but I-1631 has, in my opinion, deceived you and most liberals.  It does nothing for the environment. The taxes will be easily passed on to all of us working smucks.  And if 1631 passes then we really will have no additional chance to pass a good carbon tax.  If 1631 fails, then we can do a good carbon tax next year.  

Fear.  “This is our last chance.”  That is fear mongering.  I have heard that every year for over 60 years on different issues or candidates and it has never been true.  A bit of history.  The conservatives of the new United States were fully convinced that if Thomas Jefferson were elected president in November of 1800, that he would dismantle the Union.  They pulled out all the stops to lie about Jefferson in trying to defeat him.  Well, the Union is still here.  When we panic and think all is about to be lost, then we lose our rationality.  I’m voting NO on I-1631 and urge all environmentalists and liberals to do the same.  This bill does not represent liberal values.  


Dianne Foster

Oct 24, 2018

John,   I do hear your remarks.  But first of all,  I am not now,  and have never been,  a “liberal”.  ; Since my SDS days in the 60’s,  I consider myself a radical,  meaning to get to the root of a problem,  not paste it over with veneer.  Neoliberalism is a disease that encourages fake solutions that line the pockets of the 1%,   while appearing to feed the masses.  Example:  the well-covered root of Honduas’s problems started with the Hillary State Department-backed coup of democratically-elected Zelaya in ‘09 by a series of fascist dictators who targeted the eastern indigenous communities for genocide.     The Honduran Business Council was behind this,  as those people interfered with their plans to build resort hotels.  And Lanny Davis,   Clinton’s PR guy,  benefited as member of that council who was then appointed ambassador to D.C. from that position.     She then opposed letting those refugees in,  and the problem has multiplied since.    Only Veterans for Peace and alternative media like “The Nation”  are talking about it.  

I do consider myself an environmentalist,  and don’t see the “free market” solution of the carbon tax having any chance to ever succeed in future,  as it hasn’t in the past.    You do need buy-in from the most affected communities,  like the Quinault Indians,  who have to move their entire village inland to avoid rising seas.    And low-income people in shabby,  uninsulated dwellings,  who need that insulation to reduce energy use.     i do see the possibility that the monies could be misspent if there is not adequate public watchdogging,  but I figure that’s our job.


John Servais

Oct 24, 2018

For a radical, this I-1631 should almost be the definition of a “paste it over with veneer” and “fake solution”.  

A correct carbon tax would shift a percentage of taxes to polluting industries and reduce taxes on the working folks - radicals, conservatives, liberals, libertarians, farmers, small business owners, small manufacturers, office workers, single moms, etc.  This I-1631 does the opposite as it will increase the taxes paid by all these working folks.  

By passing this initiative, we are shooting ourselves in the foot.  The initiative sponsors are soooo mad at the oil industry that they have constructed an initiative that allows the tax to be easily passed on to us working folks. The oil corporations will not even feel the tax.  The rational is we users of oil will suffer so much that we will reduce our driving and heating our homes and taking hot showers.  My.  

To believe the oil industry will not pass the taxes onto us is to be unbelievably naive.  Child like naive.  The Sierra Club and other sponsors of this initiative say this in their promotion, referring to big oil: “They can afford to pay this fee without raising prices on you.”  Well, yes, they can.  But - they won’t.  And the initiative does not and cannot prevent them raising prices.  Of course they will raise our prices.  Duh.  How can anyone believe this sort of naive statement?

Radicals should laugh at this iniative as just another neo-liberal process to make us common folk feel good while screwing us with higher taxes to finance more neo-liberal money wasting projects.  Nothing more.  Really.  

Any environmentalist should vote NO on I-1631.  It is a deceptive initiative and a pseudo solution.  


Ryan Knowlton

Oct 24, 2018

I have read the fine print of this bill and hope others do as well, and vote NO on I-1631. It is nothing more than a money and power grab which exempts the biggest polluters and passes the rest of the costs onto the consumer. The only reduction in pollution we are going to see is going to be due to the exodus of small busineses and families from this state who’s existence is no longer financially feasible. With the tribes and extreme enviromentalist groups supporting this initiaive, this is probably what they hope for.  Furthermore the non-voter appointed board would be free to further increase taxes and spend the collected monies brewing up yet more ways to get more taxes and tolls put into place. I can see this turning into a place in the upcoming years where only the rich could afford to drive based on the amount of tolls and price of gas that could get put into effect.  Because everything we consume also moves by fuel, this would translate to local hyper-inflation of practically everything. This could even further backfire whereas we could lose enough drivers that the collected taxes would be less than before, triggering a massive negative budget and leaving our transportation system to perpetually dilapidate. See eastern Europe for examples. Washington state’s own Attorney General is against this initiative which should say something.

My family sat around the dinner table during the great recession of 2007/2008 seeing what we could cut from our grocery budget to be able to afford $5/gallon gas even with our 30mpg cars so we could get to work and back. I don’t want to be there again.


Dianne Foster

Oct 24, 2018

I’m following these comments,   and cannot disagree with them.     I’m aware that Washington state taxes of any kind are always regressive,   and even my father in the 1950’s tried to get a progressive income tax through (as did Harriet Spanel).      We are stuck with a state owned by big business,    and frankly,   I don’t know what to do about it.


Wendy Harris

Oct 24, 2018

I am offended that those who object to I-1631 do so under cover as an environmentist when the objections being raised for the most part focus on economics and who pays.

As a die-hard environmentist who opposes I-1631, I would like to see this opportunity used to help educate the public on the urgency of the threats to our continued existence on this planet.  How we allocate costs is not  a live or die issue that rises to the top. In reality, we have all been underpaying the real costs of our lifestyle and we will all be paying more if we wish to survive.

Oppose away at I-1631and its fee structure,  just do not do it as an environmemtalist. It undervalues years of efforts by many and misleads people in understanding the urgency and signifigance of the problems we have created for all life on this planet. Who foots the bill is the least of it.


Jon Humphrey

Oct 24, 2018

Here’s my take on it, as an Environmentalist. I think your points are excellent. This bill should be better and the fact that it isn’t is digusting. If not now, then when will we pass a real bill with some teeth so we can save our species, and many others, from extinction this is not an extremist point of view, the signs that we have caused largely irreversible damage are all around us. Since it still costs your own weight in gold to send you into space, that’s not much of an option either. Yet this bill feels in a lot of ways like the same awful decision we always seem to get at election time. Something that is not good enough, but is better than nothing, kind of, sort-of, because our politicians just won’t grow a backbone even when the fate of our children is at stake. So, that’s where we’re at.

On the other hand, we are so far behind Oregon and California that even this half-assed bill is probably worth passing. With that said, why God why can’t our legislators ever draft a bill with some teeth in it that is truly comprehensive. My God, the entire country of Germany will be on 45% renewable energy by 2030 and 80% by 2050, yet our city and county councils have PSE sympathizers on them that listen to PSE reps make “serious” arguments that a 1/3rd renewables goal for PSE by 2030 is NOT achievable and will force them to raise costs. This while they raise your energy prices and bring in more and more lease fees on their poles. Note to everyone, they are going to raise your costs anyway. That’s what sociopathic corporations do. That’s why we need to stop worrying about whether PSE, BP, or whatever abusive corporation wants and regulate them.

They also are doing virtually nothing to improve their infrastructure. The city and county could, of course, step in with public infrastructure to create competition and give us a better energy mix but with councils filled with good-old-boys/girls good luck. This problem isn’t just limited to the overpaid do-nothings at the top of our governments but our whole culture. For example, the amount that WWU’s high level administratiors makes annually alone would cover the cost of 135 Million Watts of solar energy at WWU if their inappropriately high salaries were converted to solar cells. The list goes on. The bottom line is that here we are again, still pandering to the very wealthy who put us in the situation in the first place, and have no interest in correcting it. In fact, their own sustained future laziness depends on hobbling progress as much as possible. So here we are brining a half-assed resolution to the table. Still, I guess when it comes to asses a half of an ass is better than none at all. So yes, I am voting for a half of an ass.



Ryan Knowlton

Oct 25, 2018

Here’s my thoughts on the many corners of this issue.

We have plenty of water in most parts of Washington and are able to utilize it for hydro-electric power, nothing new there.  Enviromental groups claim these dams hurt the fish, and they do, to an extent because those without fish ladders and bypasses obviously don’t allow fish to go upstream. This is changing though, bypasses have been added, and in some cases where the dams are simply too tall, they trap the fish and truck them up above the dams and put them in the river/lake above to spawn. The fry are then collected and distributed downstream in the spring. Hydro is some of the cleanest and abundant power we have, so I think the push to remove the dams needs to stop, if anything we need more. Summers are becoming hotter and drier, and low water levels in our rivers are harming fish returns. Then when the rains and flooding come, the flooding and fast currents wash out the spawning grounds, erode the banks, dirty the water, and further reduce fish returns. Holding back MORE of this water when its raining/pouring, and releasing it over the dry months would benefit everyone, from farmers to people to fish.

Fish stocks are further hurt by the feds inaction to delist seals and sea-lions from the endangered species act. A recent study estimated that puget sounds “pinniped” population consumes more fish than all other “consumers” combined. I grew up here and remember seeing the occasional seal or sea-lion when out on my grandparent’s boat. Now there are so many that they fight over every rock as the tide comes up, and swim up rivers to the bases of dams and eat up generations of returning salmon and sturgeon.  Out in the ocean, these predators are kept in check by a myriad of sharks and other predators, but here in the sound they are at the top of the food chain as our Orca pods seem to prefer only salmon.

Wind and solar power are also viable energy alternates, solar only to a certain extent this far north however. In the winter we just don’t get that much sun.

Most of PSE’s power sources are derived from natural gas turbines and hydro power, which are about as clean and we can get…safely(thinking nuclear here).

What I worry about is my childrens fate in being able to afford to live. Especially in the west side of Washington we are quickly becoming unaffordable for the working class as costs of housing far outreach wages. Sadly I see my kids working two jobs only to pay 50% plus of their income for rent for a 400sq/ft studio apartment they will never escape.  As a middle class family in Washington, it’s always tight financially and I don’t have alot of money to give up for more taxes no matter what they will be used for. Like many, we do our best, driving fuel efficent cars, keeping a “tight” house,  CFL and LED light bulbs, automatic thermostats that lower the temperature when no one is home, and the like. These reduce energy consumption AND save us money.

Jon, how do you see Oregon as being ahead of us? Oregon is far more ahead of us in my opinion, in that they have more industry and businness per capita, but I think its their income tax and lack of a B&O tax which makes business and industry a bit more viable and doesn’t have so many people flocking there like we do for this supposed “tax free” living we have in Washington (which is a farse anyway). This results in more income the state can spend on clean energy.

I think a fix requires many things:

-Federal Investment in CIVIL projects for more hydro, wind, water, and solar projects. If the oceans are rising lets start looking into desalinization plants for more of our water needs instead of our rivers.  

-Create more water “holding” via more dams and/or natural basins. These could be stocked with fish for more food and recreation opportunites. Don’t forget, that every recreational fishing license affords WDFW almost 100 salmon smelts while the average fisherman catches less than 3 salmon per year.  Yet, here in Bellingham only 3 in 10,000 return to spawn due to the level of consumption/predation.  

-We need to cull some seals and sea-lions. Canada does this, and even offers a small bounty, but it is kept quiet for obvious reasons. As stated above, everyone wins here. More fish returns and more fish for food.

-Cars and transportation are the major users of fossil fuel energy. Buildings obviously sit there and can easily use renewable electricity sources, but its diffuclt and expensive to do with transportation. I believe that the Eee-pee-ehh is actually detrimental to fuel efficency, as their standards are based on a flaw(purposeful?)...units of pollution per GALLON of fuel consumed, instead of units of pollution per MILE traveled. These rules allow vehicles that get 8mpg with 4-catalytic converters and an air smog pump(which simply pumps air into the exhaust so it “looks cleaner”, to pass emissions. Lets say that 100 units of pollution per gallon is the max level just for an example. The 8mpg guzzler passes with 98 units of pollution per gallon of fuel used.  It would probably get 11-12mpg, un-saddled with all the pollution equipment, but thats not part of this point. Meanwhile, lean burn technology gasoline engines or high-compression/turbo diesel engines will not be allowed in the states(without a myriad of parasitic pollution equipment) becuase they produce an extra 8% pollution per gallon of fuel burned. The important part here is “gallon”, as that vehicle may go 60 miles on that gallon of diesel, therefore only emitting 108 units of polution per gallon. BUT the big kicker here, the guzzler that passed will emit 588 units of pollution on a 60 mile trip, while the european diesel we’re not allowed to have would only emit 108 units of pullution on the same 60 mile trip.  We could make a HUGE difference here, if we would “tier” pollutions along with fuel efficency such that more efficent engines could run “dirtier” as the net level of pollution overall would be less for the distance of travel.  

To return to the issue, I-1631 isn’t going to do any of this. There is no promises to spend a certain % of the collected taxes on any of these things. I see it more along the lines of this: 10 people are trapped in a room with a limited amount of air. We’re going to take their money, choke 3 of the people to death, and tell the rest its all better now. :(  




Alex McLean

Oct 25, 2018

First off, I voted for it—my ballot is done and gone.

I am the sort of unreasonable and unbearable hippie who, under most any scenario, would vote for ANY sort of crappy carbon tax no matter what. We need to get started, after all, and the wartiest bits of this legislation can always be sanded and milled away through future revisions.

That said, I found the commentary and critique by Cliff Mass pretty interesting and relevant to some local political dynamics. This is true, especially, in the sections where Mass lamented the missing ingredient of a detailed forest management strategy,  as part of 1631’s package, and seemed to feel it would be absurd to just dump money into environmental groups’ coffers to get them to resolve this, or any other, aspect of adressing carbon and air quality issues.

Reading Mass’ words reminded me that 18 years ago, in a past life, I had written a series of articles for Northwest Conservation trying to address exactly this topic: 100-plus years of idiotic forest management policies have rendered both our National Forests (aka, “timber profit zones”) and our Wilderness Areas as tinder-filled bombs awaiting the first errant cigarrette butt or lightening strike to become cataclysmic, ecologically devastating, infernos. To my knowledge, nothing whatsoever has been done to abate the threats or change the policies. The smoke and the fires this summer are sort of mute points of consent and complicity, in my view, that we are just going to let it all burn.

The eco-freakos, 20 years ago, were the ones talking about this and getting grants and partners and studies and white papers and budding logging entrepreneurs and the goddamn Federal Government and the mega-Corporate timber goons to begin, finally, to address some of the challenges of our forest management strategies.

I guess my take-away, then, is that we all pretty much know we are just deeply, deeply screwed: This planet, if we don’t do something, is categorically fucked.

If I have to vote for something that ends up making hippies and natives richer for the last decade or two of our yee-haw time, so be it. The petro folks, and taxpayers, could use a nudge to change our collective bad behavior, anyways, so why not this? I can agree with anyone that “powerful” special interests (including NW Conservation) can be unruly—perhaps even corrupt—but I’m sincerely hoping that the committees and oversight baked into 1631 will act as checks to whatever champagne and Lambourghinis might tempt folks to stray from the important work at hand.


Daniel Kirkpatrick

Oct 25, 2018

John, I have long respected and valued your work on behalf of good governance.  I wish I had a similar level of faith in your ability to see the big picture.

 I am voting in favor of I-1631, not because it is a flawless piece of legislation – few laws ever are – but because it is a positive step.  The climate crisis is real and rapidly getting worse.  The collapse of the global ecosystem is unprecedented, and the urgency of addressing our role in it is also unprecedented.  We simply must act, both now AND in the future, in significant ways.

 I don’t pretend to be an attorney or an energy analyst.  But I’m pretty good at common sense.  So here is a common sense argument in favor of passing I-1631.

 Do we need to rein in fossil fuel consumption to address the climate crisis?  Yes.

 Will I-1631 increase fuel costs and create an incentive to use less?  Yes.

 Will the increased fuel cost be felt?  Certainly more by some than others.  But gas prices fluctuate dramatically – and as far as I can tell, arbitrarily – all the time. In the last year I’ve paid between $2.96 and $4.20 per gallon for gas.  If 1631 increases gas costs by 10-15 cents per gallon (initially) that is well within the current range of fluctuation.  Over time, the surcharge will increase, but that increase will help drive the transition to cleaner energy sources.

Might a better piece of legislation, maybe even a bipartisan one, be forthcoming?  Unlikely at best. The legislature has been unable to seriously address this issue.  The cabon tax initiative of 2016 failed.  Any future legislation addressing the climate crisis will be opposed just as fiercely by Big Oil as 1631 is, with them spending over $25 million on misleading advertising. If something better can somehow be developed in the next year or two, great!   More realistically, we will need to modify and improve 1631 after it becomes law.  Putting 1631 on the books in no way precludes other, better, legislation.

Could a better system to allocate the carbon fees than the one laid out in 1631 be devised? Certainly.  But the goals 1631 identifies – environmental cleanup, clean energy, and community response readiness – are worthy.

 Can we learn from following the money?  Absolutely. Again, over $25 million has come from oil companies to fight 1631.  That’s not corporate altruism, it’s a way to protect record profits.  In contrast, the coalition supporting 1631 includes a very wide swath of labor, health, environmental, business,  tribal, and faith organizations—most of whom value the common good.

 One final point. Whenever we get around to taking real action to reduce carbon, it will be expensive.  The question is not whether we will have to pay for the climate crisis, but when.  We’re already throwing billions every year into remediating flood and hurricane damage without actually fixing the problem.  Taking action now, by voting YES on 1631, will mitigate the costs we have to absorb over time.

I support I-1631.  It is imperfect – but necessary.  I sincerely hope enough NW Citizens join me in recognizing this fact that 1631 passes.

 —Daniel Kirkpatrick 



Larry Horowitz

Oct 25, 2018

5  words: Manhattan Project for Renewable Energy.

More than a decade ago, Tom Bearden, Ph.D., a co-inventor of the patented Motionless Electromagnetic Generator (MEG) and author of Energy From The Vacuum (EFTV) advocated for a Manhattan Project for Renewable Energy.  Since then, dozens of others, including Bill Gates, have jumped on the Manhattan Project bandwagon.

Honestly, I couldn’t care less about this carbon tax legislation.  Just more rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Until we get serious about breakthrough energy technologies, we’re just kidding ourselves.





Gerry Wilbour

Oct 29, 2018

I voted for both 1631 and Cliff Mass’s I-732.  There were things about both that I didn’t agree with, but overall, for those who are very concerned about climate change, letting the perfect be the enemy of the good is vey foolish.  

Vox.com has a couple excellent articles on the subject I wold urge readers who are confused on the issue review.  Here:  Vox.com/energy-and-environment.  The effect of the negative attacks from 30 million of big oil money is clearly reaching into some amazing places.  Cliff and big oil are wrong on several important points.  

It’s been well documnented that gas prices in the NW do not corespond to the cost of production.  That cost is generally far less than the rest of the nation, yet we often have some of the higest gas prices.  To say that if we very modestly increase that cost, they will penalize us with higher prices does follow thier acctual pricing structure being unrelated to the cost of production.  

Hoping for the GOPers to jump on board a revenue netral climate change solution as Cliff does makes no sense since they did not support 732, which was intentionally written to garner thier support, but recieved none.  Kinda like expecting Republicans to jump on board the ACA since it was modled after Romneycare in Mass. 

Bill Gates makes the excellent point that the spending plan in 1631  will position this state a the forefront of climate solutions.  Being the leader in the new sustainable economy will help this area with business and jobs long into the future.  The spending plan in 1631 allows it to be more effective than 732 would have been at a lower cost, since it reinvests the carbon fee into known and new jobs and technologies.  

If we pass up this opportuanity, we will certainly be helping to create a warmer world with smoke filled summers long into the future while the east side becomes devoid of forests. 


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