Wednesday, December 23, 2015

WA state climate initiative conflict on road to resolution?

Update:  The answer to the headline question is apparently no, at least for now.  An alternative climate initiative proposal similar to Carbon Washington’s carbon tax, but investing revenues in actions to deal with climate change instead of using them for tax cuts and credits, was rejected by the CarbonWA Executive Committee later in the day on Dec. 23.  

Yoram Bauman of Carbon Washington sent this message: “Our Executive Committee met today and discussed an updated (more detailed) version of the alternative proposal. We debated the issues and considered arguments on both sides raised by the Executive Committee and by our grassroots base. After almost 3 hours it became clear that the Executive Committee would not accept the alternative proposal in its current form and that there was no chance of modifying the alternative proposal in the very short time frame remaining that would change the Executive Committee's decision.”

CarbonWA leadership received hundreds of comments regarding the proposal, which could have led to unification of climate movement forces around a single November 2016 ballot initiative.  Many comments were unfavorable to the idea and pressed to move forward with CarbonWA’s Initiative 732.  It appears that the organization will now file its 350,000 signatures in a few days and gain ballot placement.

This leaves more questions than answers.  Will 732 be able to draw sufficient resources to pass? Will the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy mount a second climate initiative?  Can we close the divide that has opened up in the Washington state climate movement?  All unknowns.  What this set of events does show is that CarbonWA built a powerful momentum that could not be stopped or re-directed, even though a significant element of its leadership favored moving in a different direction.  Citizen’s movements take on lives of their own.

I was on the losing side of this argument, but I still think it’s valid, and so I will leave the article standing as is. (PM)

It’s been a bumpy political ride in Washington state climate ballot initiative politics over the past year, but after all is said and done the product might the most winnable and effective November 2016 climate ballot measure. 

The break came Monday with an email and blog post from Carbon Washington co-founder Yoram Bauman regarding its Initiative 732 carbon tax signature-gathering campaign.  We are on the fence about whether or not to turn in our 350,000 signatures because of the emergence of an alternative proposal.”

The CarbonWA board will make the decision between now and Dec. 30. Even though holding back signatures in a successful initiative campaign would be unprecedented, I am throwing my support behind a decision to do so.  This is because the proposal that is emerging has the best chance of overcoming the substantial obstacles that will be put in its way.  The potential is in sight to heal a fractious divide between the grassroots climate initiative and a coalition of progressive organizations aiming at its own ballot measure, the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy.  With unity will come the resources and people power needed to put a climate initiative across the finish line.

Even with unified forces, passing a carbon pricing measure at the ballot box is going to be a tough uphill fight.  If Washington achieves this, it will be a global first for any state or province, let alone nation.  Success means overcoming huge fossil fuel industry funding and the historic reluctance of state voters to approve new revenues. Climate community divisions have threatened to sink any ballot measure.

With unity the imperative for any chance of success, I outlined five scenarios to achieve it in a recent Cascadia Planet post.  Scenario #1, CarbonWA withholding signatures and undertaking a unified campaign, began to publicly play out this week.  As anticipated, it came with some pushback from within CarbonWA ranks.  Responses to the blog and in a Tuesday night conference call were mixed.  Some cried betrayal. Distrust of the Alliance, a legacy sown by the year’s conflicts, was strongly in evidence.  But sentiment in support of a unified effort seemed evenly represented.

What moved CarbonWA was polling it did in conjunction with The Nature Conservancy that strengthened a finding in earlier surveys by Alliance-affiliated groups. I-732 did even worse in a poll it helped design than in earlier polls conducted by its opponents. The revenue-neutral carbon tax design of CarbonWA’s Initiative 732 does not poll as well as an alternative measure that invests carbon revenues in clean energy development, clean water and healthy forests.  The odds for passage of the latter are better.  Polling finds that even conservatives and moderates are more swayed by clean energy investments than the tax cuts and credits promised under I-732. (The numbers are in Bauman’s post linked above.)  That and a failure to gain traction among business interests and Republicans swayed CarbonWA leadership to consider alternatives.

Clean energy investments draw support from across the political spectrum.

It makes sense that the way to pass a revenue measure is by associating it with concrete improvements.  A revenue-neutral carbon tax is, let’s face it, a fairly wonky and abstract proposition.  And revenue neutrality has always suffered from voter skepticism that tax cuts will be permanent.  The fear of a “bait-and-switch” is strongest among the conservative and centrist voters to whom revenue-neutrality is meant to appeal.  On the other hand, voters prove consistently willing to vote for revenue measures attached to specific stuff they can see, such as levies for schools and parks.  Clean energy has support across the spectrum, a proposition validated by the recent polling.

Another problem facing the I-732 revenue-neutral proposal is a state fiscal analysis indicating that it might actually be revenue-negative, causing a net loss to state revenues.  Democratic legislators have put up a stern wall of resistance to any such prospect.  CarbonWA contests the analysis, but nonetheless it represents an uncertainty hard to overcome.

Though CarbonWA ranks include many that genuinely believe revenue-neutrality is the way to win conservative and centrist voters, I-732 drew as much support as it did because it offered the only viable carbon pricing measure on the table.  Now that an alternative is emerging, it is likely to pull the vast bulk of I-732 supporters behind it.

One key reason I support the alternative is because it represents a substantial victory for the grassroots climate activist upsurge represented by the CarbonWA campaign. The victory is real. As a condition of withholding their signatures, CarbonWA has secured a commitment from key environmental nonprofits at the core of the Alliance that there will be a carbon pricing measure on the November 2016 ballot. 

Even though the Alliance had announced its intent to run an initiative, it was by no means a certainty.  There was still hemming and hawing over viability and poll numbers within Alliance leadership ranks, as there had been for months.  This was a significant reason why the Alliance did not file its own initiative to the legislature last spring when the governor’s climate bill, which it had been backing, was heading for defeat.  As I wrote in my five scenarios piece, CarbonWA had a much better sense of the climate streets and knew there was energy to carry a grassroots initiative campaign forward.  The group seized the early mover advantage, and achieved signature-gathering and fundraising success exceeding even its own expectations. 

Presented with the fait accompli, groups including Climate Solutions and Washington Environmental Council have been in talks with CarbonWA.  On the table are a campaign governance structure in which they and CarbonWA have equal weight, and an “insurance policy,” the deposit of funds sufficient for Carbon WA to re-run a petition campaign next year based on paid signature gatherers if the other parties do not carry through on their commitments.  Volunteers would not be asked to carry the signature-gathering load again.

Substantial concessions have also been made on policy design, and this is my major reason for swinging behind the alternative.  Unlike the governor’s bill and one of the options considered by the Alliance, it is not a cap and trade, but a straight-up carbon fee with set rates.  Whatever one’s views on cap and trade, effective climate policy or false solution, it never was a good idea to present such a complex proposal to voters.  Divisions in the progressive community over cap and trade plus the fossil fuel industry’s capacity to distort the issue made it particularly vulnerable.  Because of this, I was always skeptical about a political process that would even consider a cap and trade ballot measure as a serious option.  It just seemed that otherwise smart people were not drawing obvious conclusions.

That drew me to the simplified carbon tax of I-732.  It could be explained to voters in a fairly straightforward way.  A tax rate set under law, $25 per carbon ton after two years, would fund a one-percent sales tax cut, a Working Families Tax Credit and elimination of the B&O tax for manufacturers in order to keep them competitive.  It was a classic shift of taxes on goods to taxes on “bads,” in this case carbon pollution, a revenue-neutral system suggested by many experts since the 1980s. 

But, as someone who has studied and worked on climate policy for many years, revenue-neutral was not my ideal. I supported and gathered signatures for I-732 because the top priority is to discourage fossil fuel use by making it pay for its consequences.  What to do with the revenues came in second.  Nonetheless, it is a highly important second. Overcoming the climate crisis will require significant public investments.  It makes sense to fund investments with carbon revenues.  This will reduce carbon pollution to a greater degree than a pure revenue-neutral design.

The alternative proposal that is emerging makes such investments. As of this point, it is still a work in progress.  Assuming the final form substantially reflects the proposal, it is worthy of support. The measure is called a fee rather than a tax, because under the law a fee can be directed to specific programs whereas a tax cannot.  The early fee rate could be lower than I-732’s initial tax, but grow at a faster rate. Revenues would be devoted, in priority order, to:
  •       Investments in clean energy and energy efficiency
  •       Investments in clean water to adapt to climate impacts on state water resources
  •       Investments in healthy forests
  •       Tax credits to mitigate the impact of higher energy prices on the lower 40% of families
  •       Transition for workers affected by carbon pricing such as refinery workers.

In addition, a requirement that a certain level of funds be invested in disadvantaged communities is part of the alternative.

These investments are likely to allay the concerns of social justice and labor groups that have caused them to oppose revenue-neutral I-732.  They have been strong advocates for the kind of funding envisioned in the alternative. The capacity of the alternative to re-unify these groups with the grassroots forces of the I-732 campaign is one of the most compelling reasons to go for it. 

I will throw down one big caveat.  The forest health piece would allow funding of forest thinning to reduce fire fuels and wildfires. It should not because thinning is generally not a carbon win. Because wildfires largely burn tree surfaces, even large wildfires leave the bulk of carbon on the ground. 

One study finds,  “Although fuel-reduction treatments may be necessary to restore historical functionality to fire-suppressed ecosystems, we found little credible evidence that such efforts have the added benefit of increasing terrestrial (carbon) stocks . . . Carbon losses incurred with fuel removal generally exceed what is protected from combustion should the treated area burn. Even among fire-prone forests, one must treat about ten locations to influence future fire behavior in a single location.”

The forest health provision of any alternative should be written to support only measures documented to actually increase forest carbon storage such as conservation easements and long-rotation forestry.  This will draw universal support from forest advocates, whereas support for forest health thinning will open an avenue of opposition.

I concluded my five scenarios piece with these words: “We should regard it as a triumph that so many people and groups are coming to the climate table firmly committed to take action.  We should all acknowledge each other as people of good will, and seek the best possible outcomes.  We can ill afford a climate policy train wreck.  Let’s do all we possibly can to avert one.”

Both sides of the past year’s climate initiative conflict have indeed shown good will and a common commitment to a win that would be unprecedented – popular ballot approval to create a carbon policy framework.  It is heartening to see people rise above conflicts to seek the undoubted common interest in climate victory.  Coming days will show whether their efforts have born success. 

Make your own comments to or to the CarbonWA blog.


Friday, November 27, 2015

Can a WA State climate policy train wreck be averted?


A group of spunky citizens frustrated by the long-term failure to enact climate policy in Congress or the state legislature takes matters into its own hands and seeks to place a carbon tax initiative on the ballot.  As the signature gathering deadline approaches they close on their target.

Labor and social justice organizations that were once only marginally engaged in the climate issue elevate it to a top-priority concern.  They join in a new alignment to advance climate policy at the state level, emphasizing the opportunity to build equity in the process of reducing pollution.

These two developments in Washington state evidence a growing climate movement, one that now is spreading widely among progressive organizations and the citizen grassroots.  Facing accelerating climate chaos across the planet – from deep droughts to massive storms to polar ice loss – this is a movement that needs to inspire hope.  And its spread is one of the most hope-building trends around. The climate movement is finally growing to the scale of the climate challenge.

But more people coming to the table creates a profound challenge, now fully realized in the Evergreen State.  A movement that could once be coordinated by a small number of groups and players has grown beyond that possibility.  Multiple approaches and philosophies are in play.  With that have come conflict and division.   Prospects loom for snatching climate-policy defeat from the jaws of movement-growth victory.


The basic situation is that Carbon Washington has successfully mobilized a significantly volunteer effort for its Initiative 732 carbon tax.  As of this writing CarbonWA has gained 325,067 of the 330,000 signatures it targeted by Nov. 30 to assure enough names.  The number needed to qualify is 246,372.  CarbonWA has already turned in a substantial portion to the state.  If a sufficient number of valid signatures goes before the Legislature in January, that body has the option to pass the measure or put it on the November 2016 ballot. (Update - as of Dec. 2 the campaign exceeded its goal, reaching 334,000.  It is currently mounting a last month campaign to reach 350,000.  These numbers make ballot qualification highly probable.)  The Legislature could also accompany that with one of its own.

Meanwhile, the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy has built an alignment of progressive groups that backed Gov. Jay Inslee’s carbon cap and trade bill in the 2015 Legislature.  The Alliance has announced its intention to run its own carbon pricing initiative, but has not announced details. Alliance members, particularly groups representing communities of color, object to I-732’s design, recycling all revenues from a $25/ton carbon tax to tax cuts and credits. They maintain that a portion of revenues should be devoted to funding green jobs and other investments in just transition from fossil fuels, and that CarbonWA has not been responsive to their concerns, and was not designed through an inclusive process that would have incorporated those concerns.  The arguments and politics were covered in a previous post.

The Alliance has made multiple statements that it regards the presence of competing initiatives on the 2016 ballot as a recipe for defeat, and has committed in a joint statement with CarbonWA not to run two initiatives.  The Alliance also asserts that its polling indicates the revenue-neutral design of 732 is in itself a loser, and that people would actually be more willing to vote for a measure that invests in solutions. Now that I-732 appears to be headed to ballot qualification, at least two train wreck scenarios rise. 

Scenario #1 -  The Alliance goes ahead and files an initiative to the people that gains its signatures in 2016 and ballot qualifies (as opposed to CarbonWA’s initiative to the Legislature which needed to get its sign-ups in 2015).  The contest between the two initiatives turns nasty and fossil fuel interests leverage the conflict to discredit both in the public eye, resulting in defeat.  This poisons the well for passage of carbon pricing in Washington state for some time to come

Scenario #2 - The Alliance opts not to run an initiative, but it and its supporters stand aside.   Disunity in climate forces adds to the uphill challenges already faced by I-732.  The initiative goes down to defeat, also poisoning the carbon-pricing well. 

It is important to note that neither of these scenarios are inevitabilities in themselves.  Victory in an initiative fight will be determined by the degree to which the climate concerns of Washington citizens can be aroused.  A successful campaign will connect fossil fuel pollution with climate impacts on the state including record drought and wildfires, salmon death in overheated rivers, intense and sometimes unseasonal storms, and shellfish industry-killing ocean acidification. Success in elevating climate urgency might overcome the disadvantages of disunity.    The details of policy will come second.  

It should also be noted that many CarbonWA supporters push back on the idea that a ballot loss will be fatal to future climate policy passage. Better to take a swipe at bat and push the climate issue by talking to hundreds of thousands of people on the streets, they say. Whatever the case, if 732 goes on the ballot it creates facts on the ground with which the entire climate community must deal.  

Could this conflict have been avoided? And are there conflict resolution paths forward that improve the odds of victory? 


To answer the first question, yes, this could have been avoided.  A set of strategic miscalculations on the part of the state climate policy establishment set up this dilemma.  CarbonWA had been moving toward an initiative for several years, but would not have filed I-732 if the governor’s climate bill had been successful, or if the governor and/or the state’s climate groups had been ready with their own initiative.  It was clear almost from the day the bill dropped it was not going to pass.  It was also crystal clear that CarbonWA would file its initiative, as it did in April, when there was no other measure on the table. Though the Alliance was talking about an initiative then, CarbonWA leadership noted with some skepticism that climate groups had been discussing an initiative for years without taking action.  If the governor and the groups had been ready to fill the initiative space when they saw legislative failure looming, the situation now would be entirely different. 

The fact they did not occupy the initiative space immediately, and let CarbonWA seize it, leads to an unavoidable conclusion.  They miscalculated that a significantly volunteer effort without several hundred thousand dollars in the bank would not have the juice to gain the signatures.   In closing on apparent success CarbonWA has presented them with an unanticipated fait accompli. There was a critical disconnect in this, a lack of comprehension of the deep hunger and moral urgency of grassroots citizens to do whatever they could to address the climate crisis.  There was also a lack of appreciation for how frustrated people had become about repeated failures to pass meaningful climate policy.  They were no longer willing to trust professionally staffed groups or political leadership to get the job done.  These sentiments extended far past the core organizers of CarbonWA, as successful efforts to build a volunteer army and broad funder base prove. 

Cascadia Planet predicted this outcome last January. ". . . the climate and environmental community has greeted the governor’s plan with enthusiastic support.  This demonstrates a deep hunger for carbon limits of any sort. However, if the governor cannot pull one out of a hat and his package stalls, that same hunger will attach to CarbonWA’s proposal. The momentum created by the campaign for the governor’s cap-and-trade will transmit to CarbonWA’s BC-style carbon tax."

One reason that the governor and the groups should have been ready to fill the initiative space was to avert a climate movement split. The fractiousness to come could have easily been anticipated. Cascadia Planet forecast the split in a Nov. 25, 2014 post, "Climate Justice in collision with revenue-neutral carbon policies?"   Of course, CarbonWA made its own contribution to the situation. Before CarbonWA filed its initiative, communities of color representatives asked the group to adopt a policy that did not recycle all revenues, but direct some of the revenues to invest in transition from fossil fuels.  CarbonWA had already fixed its policy, and so a collision was coming.  Greater flexibility on the part of CarbonWA could have at least gone a long way to avert this.  But CarbonWA leaders are convinced that revenue-neutrality is necessary to attract bipartisan support.  So here is a place where differing approaches and philosophies are coming to the fore.  

Still, if there had been an alternative initiative on the table, the collision could have been avoided. A series of strategic miscalculations led up to that. The first was that the Washington State Senate could be flipped back to the Democrats in the 2014 election, opening the way for legislative passage of climate policy.  The assumption was that high-net-worth funder money from California billionaire Tom Steyer and others, coordinated with get-out-the-vote efforts, could overcome the traditional Democrat disadvantage in off-year elections plus the disadvantage the incumbent’s party has in the sixth year of a presidential term. Meanwhile, the governor’s Carbon Emissions Reduction Taskforce, which included core Alliance members Climate Solutions, American Lung Association, One America, SEIU and Washington State Labor Council, had spent months designing a legislative proposal in the expectation that the governor would have a Senate he could work with. Election day defeat effectively eliminated that possibility, leaving a Republican Senate led by oil industry minions. Notable among them was election target Doug Ericksen, chair of the Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee, a chokepoint for any climate legislation. 

Nonetheless, the governor went ahead with a bill.  Unfortunately, it bore little resemblance to what one would want in an initiative.   Focusing the lion’s share of carbon revenues on solving the state’s education and transportation funding crises, it devoted a relatively small share to the kind of just transition funding the Alliance is now demanding.  Ironically, the major portion of that was revenue recycling to lower-income families meant to buffer the impact of higher energy prices, along the lines of funding offered by 732.  The bill was designed for legislative passage in the forlorn hopes that a few Republican legislators could be peeled away to solve the budget crisis.  It was not designed to tee up an initiative.  

It was also a cap-and-trade, a policy design that draws skepticism from climate justice groups who label carbon trading as a “false solution” to climate change.  Among other reasons, they object to letting polluters buy offsets that allow high-emissions facilities to continue operating in low-income neighborhoods, as well as forest carbon purchases in developing nations that deprive traditional peoples of land rights. In October and November climate justice groups conducted two “no false solutions” workshops in Seattle to drive home their opposition to carbon trading.  Sponsors included Seattle Rising Tide, leader in the local direct action movement against fossil fuels; Bayan, a progressive Filipino coalition, and Alliance Steering Committee member Got Green.  To its credit the issue is being debated in Alliance ranks.  

In an alternative scenario, when it became clear the Republicans would hold the State Senate, making bill passage unlikely, the governor would have submitted a bill that reflected the content of a prospective initiative - With substantial funding for green jobs, clean energy and just transition, and a simple, non-controversial policy design that would draw widespread support.  If the bill was blocked, the governor and/or the groups would have been ready with an initiative to the 2015 Legislature, the same vehicle CarbonWA employed.  Who knows?  Maybe the threat to file an initiative would have given the governor more leverage with the Republican Senate. 

Why didn’t this happen?  In the final analysis, the governor and the groups did not want to commit to an initiative at that point.  Their own polling made them uncertain an initiative would pass, and they did not want to take the risk.  So when the governor’s bill hit the wall, CarbonWA literally took the initiative and captured the momentum. Its initiative to the Legislature kicked off the signature campaign in May. One can only think that if the governor and the groups had employed a different political calculus that correctly assessed the hunger of grassroots citizens to take action, and CarbonWA's ability to leverage it, they would have moved earlier with their own initiative, whatever the risks.  


By now, there is a lot of spilled milk under the bridge, a number of heated statements (which in the spirit of conflict resolution I will leave aside), a whole lot of hurt feelings, and high potential for a climate policy wreck on the order of an oil train explosion.  Assuming I-732 will gain enough signatures to qualify, are there scenarios that avert train wreck conflicts and lead to victory?  There are many moving pieces and complex nuances, some of which I find frankly boggling.  But here goes:

Scenario #1 – CarbonWA responds to pressure to not file its signatures, and instead unifies with the Alliance and its clearly superior connections and resources.  In return CarbonWA has a prominent voice in the Alliance initiative design.  But would CarbonWA be willing to do this, knowing many volunteers and supporters might be alienated by such a decision?  In any event, this scenario would require an absolutely solid commitment by the Alliance to run an initiative with agreement on mutually acceptable language.  This would likely have to happen in the next month because CarbonWA loses leverage past the signature-filing deadline of Jan. 1, 10 days before the next legislative session starts.

Scenario #2 – The Alliance opts not to go ahead with its own carbon pricing initiative, and also opts to put resources behind 732 despite its objections in order to put a basic carbon pricing framework in place.  Averting a carbon pricing defeat would be a powerful incentive. This is particularly the case because, as Cascadia Planet previously reported, inside players fear an initiative loss would also drag down Inslee’s 2016 reelection campaign.  But would Alliance members be willing to support a measure many consider a bad precedent that does not support a just transition?  If I-732 passes, it would not be set in stone forever.  After two years the Legislature could alter it with a majority vote (2/3rds before then).  The initiative's initial two-year $25/ton carbon charge can grow to $100/ton under the measure at 3.5% annually plus inflation. With legislative changes there could be funding for transition investments in the future.  The Legislature could also accelerate growth of the charge.  Nonetheless, supporting 732 would be a hard pill to swallow for many Alliance members, who could only consider it a last ditch to avert worse outcomes, and who did not feel included in the initial design.

Scenario #3 – The Legislature enacts 732 carbon pricing as a way to cover the one percent sales tax cut enacted by Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1336 passed in November.  The initiative orders the cut unless the Legislature puts a constitutional amendment before the voters mandating a two-thirds legislative vote for tax increases. Assuming a court challenge does not knock out 1336, a new carbon tax provides a way to preserve state revenues and avoid the amendment vote.  Denny Westneat speculated about this possibility in the Seattle Times.  There are difficulties because 732 phases in a one-percent sales tax reduction over two years, while Eyman’s initiative cuts sales taxes one percent over one year. If that could be worked out, it opens the way for the Alliance to run its own initiative.  But would the Republican State Senate have any incentive to go with this plan?  It seems unlikely. 

Scenario #4 – The Alliance files its own initiative and conducts a collaborative campaign with CarbonWA that focuses the debate on the disposition of carbon revenues.  Green transition investments or tax cuts?  Frame this as basic agreement on the need for carbon pricing while giving voters a choice on what to do with the revenues. In this case, it would be best to have the pricing side of the measures as parallel as possible.  A $25/ton carbon tax is a good place to start.  Cascadia Planet suggested this before. Could the groups come together?  Would this collaborative approach overcome fears that competing initiatives will cannibalize each other?  These are unknowns, but it seems reasonable to consider this option. 

Scenario #5 – The Alliance takes a different tack, leaves carbon pricing to 732 and approaches energy transition from an energy standard approach.  Paralleling the new Oregon initiative, which calls for coal plant shutdown and a 50% renewable energy share, a Washington initiative could ramp up the state’s renewables standard from the 15% by 2020 enacted through I-937.  If Washington reached 30% new renewables by 2030 - "30x30" - nearly 100% of the state’s electricity would effectively be wind, solar or hydroelectric. Washington could join the growing movement to 100% clean renewable energy, which Hawaii did recently when it mandated 100% by 2045. This would assure that replacement energy for coal plants including Transalta and Colstrip would not be natural gas. It would also create significant numbers of green jobs. One objection is that the measure would only cover the electrical sector while the state’s largest carbon emissions challenge is transportation.  But transportation is electrifying, and a regulatory carbon cap rulemaking that the governor has ordered the Department of Ecology to undertake will cover most transportation fuels used in the state. 

That was strengthened by a recent King County Superior Court ruling in response to a suit by youth plaintiffs.  They argued that the state is obligated to cap carbon emissions under constitutional and legislative mandates to protect natural resources.  Judge Hollis Hill agreed.  (Cascadia Planet will post on this highly significant ruling soon.)  Washington state will have a carbon cap, assuming the rulemaking stands up under the inevitable fossil fuel industry court challenge.  What it will not have, unless enacted by the Legislature or the people, is a carbon price.  This is why it is vital that the Alliance and CarbonWA find some way to harmonize their efforts, if this is possible. A price on carbon will move climate solutions forward.

We should regard it as a triumph that so many people and groups are coming to the climate table firmly committed to take action.  We should all acknowledge each other as people of good will, and seek the best possible outcomes.  We can ill afford a climate policy train wreck.  Let’s do all we possibly can to avert one.