We all want clean air and water. We all want our blessed natural environment to thrive and be healthy — that we can agree on. We want to be able to fish for healthy fish for generations to come and we want the air our grandchildren and great grandchildren breathe to be clean.
What citizens don’t agree on is the public policy to achieve environmental goals. A new climate change initiative will likely be on the ballot this fall, I-732 aims to tackle carbon emissions and it’s bad policy for Cowlitz County and the state of Washington. And it appears that people on both sides, both the left and the right think this initiative is a bad idea.
In last Sunday’s edition of The Daily News, Marissa Luck wrote an informative story titled, “The Cost of CO2”. The story detailed how proponents of I-732 propose to place significant new taxes on carbon emissions that would hit particular businesses in the pulp and paper, forestry product and food producing industries very hard. This means Kapstone, Weyerhaeuser and Foster Farms would see dramatic increases in tax expense, along with numerous smaller companies in the same industries and the companies who supply them.
For this reason alone state Sen. Dean Takko and state Rep. J.D. Rossetti both oppose I-732 — and we agree with them.
Organizers of I-732 are using one of the oldest strategies in the political playbook, raise significant new taxes by enacting a new tax, while lowering taxes in other existing tax categories. This “revenue neutral” strategy seems to mollify some voters into thinking it won’t cost them a penny. But as Marissa’s story details, the cost to citizens will be dramatic in the form of higher utility bills, gasoline prices and food costs. Additionally, I-732 will cost businesses like Kapstone, Weyerhaeuser and Foster Farms jobs.
The Washington State Office of Financial Management estimates I-732 would reduce state revenue by $914 million over four years.
In addition to having a dramatic effect on the industries mentioned, this initiative will make every business in the state of Washington less competitive.
We are not alone in our opposition of I-732. The progressive organization, Fuse Washington opposes the initiative as well. While their reasons are extensive and include a much more social basis than ours, they also believe the tax ‘solution’ this imitative proposes is bad for both citizens and business and does nothing to solve long-term environmental concerns.
Proponents of new carbon taxes point to Canada as the success story. British Columbia put a similar carbon tax in place and has seen a very small reduction in carbon emissions. Opponents point to British Columbia as well, saying if the system worked carbon emissions would be down significantly, not just a very small amount. To get greater results supporters of carbon taxes say the tax needs to be higher.
Representative J.D. Rossetti was quoted in Sunday’s paper saying, “Our people are starving for jobs in our district, and anything that sets us back farther is going to be a major concern for me.” While state Rep. Ed Orcutt said, “You can use a carrot or you can use a stick, I think incentives are a better way.”
We agree with both Rossetti and Orcutt.
Business owners, whether privately or publicly owned, want a return on investment. For example, when the Federal Reserve wants to boost the economy by getting businesses to invest more capital interest rates are reduced. Lower interest rates means borrowing money to grow or expand a business is cheaper, and will provide a higher return on investment. I-732 will just saddle certain companies with huge new expenses.
It leaves us wondering why I-732 is all stick and no carrot.
In addition to Orcutt, Takko and Rossetti the Washington State Labor Council is against I-732. The Labor Council’s president Jeff Johnson thinks I-732 will force businesses to relocate out of state and said, “There’s nothing in I-732 that would compensate workers or communities who could end up losing jobs and tax revenue from say, a mill in Cowlitz County moving.”
The TDN edit board will continue to push for common sense policies in which business and the environment can both thrive—and I-732 is not it.