The Longview City Council Thursday unanimously opposed the proposed carbon fee on November’s ballot and encouraged citizens to vote against the measure.
Seven Longview residents also spoke against Initiative 1631, which would impose a fee of $15 per ton on carbon dioxide emissions starting in January 2020 and would increase by $2 each year until the state’s 2035 greenhouse gas reduction goals are met.
Two audience members spoke in support of the initiative, arguing that it would be a step towards combating climate change.
Multiple councilmembers said the fee would result in higher gas prices and city utility rates, placing the burden on citizens.
“Our fuel costs for the city are outrageous,” Councilman Mike Wallin said. “We do the best we can to go to biodiesel buses and find other ways to reduce emissions. That ought to be way of future: to find more efficient means. It’s the way of carrot, not the stick. This initiative offers a big stick.”
The fee is projected to raise about $2.25 billion in the first five fiscal years.
About 70 percent of the revenue from the fee would go into a fund for air quality and energy programs; 25 percent would be designated for water quality and forest health projects; and 5 percent would benefit healthy communities.
“I am horrified because this is a lot of money that will come from people who already have a lot to pay out of their checks that you can’t use for yourself, clothing, home or food,” one Longview woman said.
Councilman Steve Moon said the fee burdens Longview residents who already grappling with financial hardships.
“I struggle every year when we go through our rates for utilities and I look at a couple dollars increase a month. That’s scary to pass onto you guys because we are struggling as a community,” Councilman Steve Moon said. “This hits our citizens in the pocketbook.”
In other business, the council:
- Welcomed a delegation from Wako, Japan, as part of the Longview-Wako Sister City Friendship.
- Allocated the remaining $17,000 in the Neighborhood Park Grant for a covered basketball court at the Elks Memorial Park by Lake Sacajawea.
- Ratified the declaration of emergency and curfew at Lake Sacajawea imposed on Sept. 27 to address growing frustration with homeless people who have been spending nights in the Lion’s Shelter at the lake.
- Recognized Erika Quiroz, Cary Bellows and Juice Quiroz with the Community Advocate Award for their work with Radical Love, an effort to provide nutritious meals to low-income and homeless community members.
- Approved a 3 percent general wage increase each year in 2019, 2020 and 2021 for Longview Police Guild members.