Next month, voters in Washington will decide on Initiative 1631, the state’s carbon pollution fee.
The issue is getting a lot of attention from both supporters and opponents.
On Wednesday, Washington tribes took the lead in support of I-1631 by taking their rally right to the oil company’s front door.
“The thing that will change is that corporations that have been able to pollute and corrupt our environment will no longer get a free pass,” said Fawn Sharp.
Sharp is the chairwoman of the First American Project, a coalition of Washington State tribes urging people to vote yes on I-1631.
“With I-1631 we will all be in a position where we will all be accountable, we will all pay, but big oil, more importantly, they will be held accountable and they will finally have to pay a price for destroying our environment,” she said.
I-1631 would charge large industrial emitters an escalating fee for carbon emissions. Money raised would pay for projects aimed at reducing pollution and protecting the environment. If passed, it would be the first direct fee on carbon emissions in the country.
Heather Hansen is part of the No on 1631 campaign.
“I talk to so many people on a fixed income who are just terrified in the increase in costs, not only for gasoline, but to heat and light their houses. That really concerns me,” she said.
Hansen said the tax would raise gas prices at least $0.13 per gallon, which would have a ripple effect on everything bought and sold in the state.
“If you add all that up, the economic analysis we had done shows it’ll average about $440 per household per year for the first year, and then it just increases from there,” said Hansen.
KIRO 7 asked her about climate change concerns.
“Unfortunately, we don’t think this is going to have much of an impact,” she said. “It exempts most of the large polluters in Washington, air polluters, so it’s really just addressing a tiny, tiny fraction of carbon emissions.”
Supporters of I-1631 say something needs to be done.
“This is something that is going to impact the world. We all have to make a difference,” said Dave Archambault, former chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux.
The issue is shaping up to be one of the most expensive ballot measures in the state’s history.