Michael Alvarez Shepard, PhD

Home » Uncategorized » Initiative 732: An imperfect but important step toward pricing carbon pollution

Initiative 732: An imperfect but important step toward pricing carbon pollution

Washington State voters are currently considering Initiative 732, which would model after the successful carbon tax that British Columbia launched in 2008. Initiative 732 is not a perfect solution, but would take meaningful steps toward regulation of carbon pollution. I teach a graduate course on Environmental Governance for Goucher College’s MA in Environmental Studies. There my students read one of the most widely assigned readings across the US higher education system: The Tragedy of the Commons. Carbon pollution is a prime example of the type of abuse to collective resources that Hardin describes. There are many choices that societies have when considering how to implement governance of complex systems, however without any such system we will continue to abuse resources we collectively depend on. I-732 would set a tax on carbon emissions that would capture some of the negative externality caused by these industries. It would lower Washington’s regressive sales tax, providing some direct economic benefit for middle and lower income people. Granted, the slaes tax decrease will also be accompanied by higher gas taxes. I-732 will provide incentives for Washington State to continue embracing alternative energy solutions. The initiative will also provide industry a clear policy to work from. A friend of mine works for a large oil refinery in Whatcom County. He said that this initiative is a welcome direction for industry as they need stable, reliable policy to work under. I hope that I-732 is a step toward comprehensive efforts to decrease our reliance on unsustainable energy sources and meaningful climate action.


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