RFK, Jr: Washington Voters Step Up, Pass the Nation's First Carbon Tax

Alfred North Whitehead observed that "duty arises from one's capacity to influence events." By this rule, Washington state voters have a profound duty to support Initiative-732, our nation's first carbon tax.

By making Washington the premier American government to place a price on carbon, Evergreen voters will pioneer the trail away from our deadly carbon addiction and its murderous offspring: climate chaos.

September shattered the record for hottest month ever recorded and 2016 will be measured as human history's hottest year as was 2015, and 2014 before that. Humanity is already paying a high price for carbon—melting glaciers and barren, acidic oceans, biblical droughts, famines, floods, fires, plagues and great cities drowned by newly routine superstorms. Raging forest fires in Washington state obliterate property values and spawn epidemics of asthma and premature death. Weather related disasters have cost Americans more than $1 trillion dollars in the last 30 years.

While Americans suffer, big polluters are getting away with murder and getting rich in the process. Despite last year's losses, Shell, BP and Exxon reported a decade of record earnings that exceeded the greatest profits of any industry in human history. Our federal government has failed to address the crisis. A billion dollars in campaign contributions from the carbon tycoons has paralyzed congress. Big oil's indentured servants on Capitol Hill have blocked every effort to mitigate the climate apocalypse. Pricing carbon isn't even on the table.

And so, our nation looks to Washington state for leadership. On Nov. 8, just four days after the Paris climate agreement became international law, Washington state can step boldly into the leadership breach left by federal abdication.

For the 20 percent of undecided voters, here is how I-732 works. The proposed law puts a price on carbon pollution, starting at $15 per metric ton. For reference, a typical car emits about five metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. That price will steadily, and predictably increase over a few decades until it hits $100 per metric ton, adjusted for inflation.

The state will return all these payments to taxpayers in the form of a full percentage point decrease in the sales tax, plus up to $1,500 for a Working Families Tax Credit for low-income families. This makes the referendum "revenue neutral"—the government neither gains nor loses money. The scheme is one of simplest and most effective ways to reduce emissions immediately.

Some environmentalists oppose the Initiative arguing that revenues should go to green energy infrastructure. That, indeed, would be the best outcome. But we shouldn't make perfect the enemy of the good.

And a lot of good will come from this law. State sales taxes will drop. Rather than pay more to burn fossil fuels, polluters will switch to cleaner, more efficient energy and technology yielding cleaner air and water and better health for Washington's citizens.

Dirty fossil fuel polluters will finally pay the true costs that they are now imposing on America's citizens. Globally, taxpayers pay more than $5.3 trillion to subsidize the oil, gas and coal industries. By turning off this pipeline of massive socialist style subsidies, Initiative-732 will level the playing field for clean energy technologies. Wind, solar, electric vehicles and energy efficiency will finally compete head to head against filthy and expensive dinosaur fuels for which the economic rationale has expired. Those new energy sources produce abundant, high-paying sustainable jobs and democratize our energy markets.

By voting yes on I-732, Washingtonians will not just preserve the environment for children. They will pave the way for a national transition to the clean energy future.

I hope Washington voters will step up and show the federal government that the visionary, idealistic, can-do leadership is alive and well in America and it's living in Washington state.

Show Comments ()

Skylines to Switch Off as Millions Connect to the Planet to Celebrate Earth Hour 2018

On Saturday, March 24 at 8:30 p.m. local time, skylines around the world will go dark as millions celebrate WWF's Earth Hour to spark global awareness and action on nature and the environment.

From the Eiffel Tower to the Empire State Building, and the Bird's Nest stadium to Burj Khalifa, thousands of landmarks will switch off their lights in solidarity for the planet, urging individuals, businesses and governments worldwide to move forward the conversations and solutions we need to build a healthy, sustainable future for all.

Keep reading... Show less
Save Ohio's Bobcat's is working to oppose a proposed trapping season for the recently-threatened feelines. Save Ohio's Bobcats

Concerned Ohioans Unite Against Bobcat Trapping Plan

Environmental activists, science educators and the Athens Ohio City Council are teaming up against a controversial new proposal by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife (ODNRDOW) to open a bobcat trapping season in the southeastern part of the state, The New Political reported Wednesday.

Keep reading... Show less
Industrial agribusiness is destroying our most precious natural resource—water. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services

From 'Sea to Shining Sea,' Industrial Ag Fouls America's Waterways

By Katherine Paul

A citizen-led group in Nebraska is fighting Costco's plan to build a huge chicken factory farm operation that residents in nearby cities say would pollute their drinking water.

Residents of Devils Lake, North Dakota, along with members of the Spirit Lake Nation Tribe are battling plans to build a hog CAFO in a neighboring community. They say the operation would pollute Devils Lake and area wetlands.

Keep reading... Show less
Plastic samples collected from the Great Pacific garbage patch. The Ocean Cleanup

Great Pacific Garbage Patch Is Now Twice the Size of Texas

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) floating off the coast of California now measures 1.6 million square kilometers (about 1 million square miles), according to a startling new study. To put that into perspective, the clump of trash is about the size of three Frances, or twice the size of Texas.

Not only that, the analysis, published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports, also revealed that the massive Pacific trash vortex contains up to 16 times more plastic than previous estimates—and could rapidly get worse.

Keep reading... Show less
Sulfide chimneys coated with iron-based microbial mat at Urashima Vent. Deep sea hydrothermal vents like these are targeted for mining. NOAA / Flickr

Deep Sea Mining Decisions: Approaching the Point of No Return

By Sebastian Losada

Over the last two weeks, the International Seabed Authority (ISA) has been in discussions in Jamaica. Its mission—to work towards the finalization of exploitation regulations, a so-called mining code, that will allow commercial deep sea mining operations to begin all around the world.

In the quest for minerals, deep seabed mining means to extend mining activities into the deep ocean. The coming two years are critical in the opening—or not—of this unnecessary new frontier of resource exploitation.

Keep reading... Show less

One Mom’s Campaign to Save the Swimmers

By Stacy Malkan

"I want grandkids one day, so sperm is important to me because I've got three young boys," said mom, author and social media genius Leah Segedie in a video introducing her "Save the Swimmers" campaign.

"This is where my youngest rolls his eyes at me and says, 'I know Mom. Avoiding plastics can help save my swimmers, oooh kay.' But to me this is no laughing matter. Over 25 years of studies have demonstrated that these little sperm are crying out for help."

Keep reading... Show less

Can Food-Focused Medicine Cure Food-Related Disease?

By Julie Wilson

So-called "modern" food, produced through industrialized, chemical-intensive farming practices, is causing a host of chronic, hard-to-diagnose and hard-to-treat health problems in children and adults, say Michelle Perro, MD and Vincanne Adams, PhD, authors of What's Making Our Children Sick?

Keep reading... Show less
Protest against Arctic oil at Statoil commissioned rig in Norway. Greenpeace

'Kayaktivists' Board Rig Set to Drill Arctic

Peaceful "kayaktivists" from Greenpeace Norway boarded a Statoil-contracted rig set to drill two Arctic wells this year.

Two people boarded the rig at the Skipavik yard on Norway's west coast Thursday morning and have requested a meeting with the rig's captain.

Keep reading... Show less


The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!