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Washington State Senators ?Hear Testimony On Carbon Tax

Jon Connell
Flickr -

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is pushing for lawmakers to impose a tax on carbon emissions this year. But at a Senate public hearing Tuesday, some asked for more support for people disproportionately affected by the tax.

The carbon tax would raise more than $1.5 billion in revenue in 2019 by charging a $20 tax per metric ton of carbon dioxide on the sale of fossil fuels the state of Washington. But some say more has to be done to help vulnerable communities transition to clean energy.

While many offered criticism, few industries testified in complete opposition to the tax. Kyle England, the senior manager of human resources and external affairs for Kaiser Aluminum, said the tax would impact factories that use a lot of power and are exposed to foreign trade.

“Within a global competitive marketplace we are unable to pass along the additional cost of a tax onto our customers thereby creating an increase in our overall cost of production resulting in a competitive disadvantage,” England said.

But an exemption for these factories addressed his company’s concerns. Other exemptions from the carbon tax would include aircraft fuel and biodiesel.

Spokespeople from other industries argued that the tax is too high.

Washington State Labor Council President Jeff Johnson spoke in support of the carbon tax. He said the bill needs stronger equity provisions so no one is left behind.

“Low income folks need income assistance and investments in their community,” Johnson said. “Tribal communities who face relocation because of sea rise need assistance. Fossil fuel workers who face dislocation due to the transition away from fossil fuels need support.”

Only 15 percent of the revenue generated by the carbon tax would go to transition assistance. Most of that money will fund projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and invest in renewable energy.