The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Big Oil Pours Record $30M to Sway Voters Against Nation's First Carbon Tax
If voters approve Initiative 1631 on Nov. 6, Washington state will take a significant step in climate action by becoming the first state in the nation to enact a fee on carbon emissions. That is, unless Big Oil can stop it.
The U.S. oil industry has pumped a record $30 million to stop the carbon tax, which environmentalists have tried to enact for years, Reuters reported, citing state data. Meanwhile, proponents—including green groups and climate activist billionaires Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer and Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple founder Steve Jobs—have spent $15.2 million.
"With Big Oil spending $30 million, that makes it a real fight," Bill Holland, state policy director for the League of Conservation Voters, told Reuters. "It has been a frightening amount of money."
Washington ranks fifth in the nation in crude oil refining capacity for making gasoline and other petroleum products, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Initiative 1631 imposes a starting fee of $15 per metric ton on carbon emissions, beginning in 2020. This fee rises $2 every year until the state hits its 2035 emissions reductions goals and is on track to meet its 2050 goals. If passed, the tax is expected to generate $2.3 billion in revenue for green infrastructure, clean transportation and help communities most impacted by pollution.
A recent statewide Crosscut/Elway Poll among registered voters shows 50 percent approval of the measure, 36 percent opposed and 14 percent undecided.
The opposition is led by the Western States Petroleum Association, a trade organization that has raised $31.2 million from energy companies and business groups for the "No on 1631" campaign—the most money ever spent in Washington state history to defeat a ballot initiative.
BP America contributed the most with $11.5 million, followed by $7.2 million from Phillips 66 and Andeavor with $4.4 million, Reuters said. The three energy companies have refineries in the state. American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers and Valero Energy Corporation also donated funds.
The money has been spent on digital ads, flyers, mailers and television ads aired during this month's Major League Baseball World Series. Opponents say the tax will "be paid by Washington families and small businesses."
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Ethics investigations have been opened into the conduct of senior Trump appointees at the nation's top environmental agencies.
The two investigations focus on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler and six high-ranking officials in the Department of Interior (DOI), The Hill reported Tuesday. Both of them involve the officials' former clients or employers.
"This is demonstrative of the failures at the very top of this administration to set an ethical tone," Campaign Legal Center Ethics Counsel Delaney Marsco told The Washington Post of the DOI investigation. "When people come to work for government, they're supposed to work on behalf of the public. It's a betrayal of the public trust when senior political appointees seem to give privileged access to their former employers or former clients."
By Dipika Kadaba
We've known for more than 50 years that smoking cigarettes comes with health hazards, but it turns out those discarded butts are harmful for the environment, too. Filtered cigarette butts, although small, contain dozens of chemicals, including arsenic and benzene. These toxins can leach into the ground or water, creating a potentially deadly situation for nearby birds, fish and other wildlife.
By Wenonah Hauter
Five years ago this week, an emergency manager appointed by then-Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder made the devastating decision to save money by switching Flint's water supply over from Detroit's water system to the Flint River. Seen as a temporary fix, the new water supply was not properly treated. High levels of lead leached from the old pipes, poisoning a generation of Flint's children, and bacteria responsible for an outbreak of Legionnaires' Disease killed more than a dozen residents.
Did you know that more than a third of food is wasted or thrown away every year? And that only 25 percent of it would be enough to feed the 795 million undernourished people in the world? That's why today is Stop Food Waste Day, a chance to reflect on what you can do to waste less of the food you buy.