Voters reject carbon fee, OK ban on local soda taxes

Published 11-08-2018

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SEATTLE (AP) - Washington state voters rejected the nation's first tax on carbon emissions in the costliest initiative fight in state history. They approved a ballot measure to block local governments from imposing new taxes on soda or grocery items.

With about two million votes counted Wednesday, 56 percent of voters rejected Initiative 1631, the carbon pollution fee that was closely watched nationwide.

The measure would have charged large emitters an escalating fee starting at $15 per metric ton of carbon emissions based on the carbon content of fossil fuels used or sold in the state or electricity generated within the state.

An estimated $2.3 billion in the first five years would have funded a range of programs aimed at cutting carbon pollution and protecting the environment.

Many experts said passage would show that states could take the lead on climate action even if the Trump administration doesn't.

The oil industry spent millions to defeat it, outspending carbon-fee supporters by 2-to-1. Oil companies contributed most of $31 million raised in opposition. Opponents said the measure as an energy tax that would hurt consumers.

Dana Bieber, a spokeswoman with the No on 1631 campaign, declared victory Tuesday night for "working families, consumers, small businesses and family farmers."

A coalition of tribes and community, labor, faith-based and other groups collected more than 360,000 signatures to put the measure on the ballot. Proponents said polluters who release carbon emissions responsible for global warming should pay to address its impacts.

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio supported the carbon fee while Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg each gave $1 million.

The election also saw big industry spending on other ballot measures including Initiative 1634, backed by the soda industry. The beverage industry targeted Washington state as part of a nationwide effort to s

Dana Bieber, a spokeswoman with the No on 1631 campaign, declared victory Tuesday night for "working families, consumers, small businesses and family farmers."

A coalition of tribes and community, labor, faith-based and other groups collected more than 360,000 signatures to put the measure on the ballot. Proponents said polluters who release carbon emissions responsible for global warming should pay to address its impacts.

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio supported the carbon fee while Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg each gave $1 million.

The election also saw big industry spending on other ballot measures including Initiative 1634, backed by the soda industry. The beverage industry targeted Washington state as part of a nationwide effort to stop the expansion of taxes on soda.

I-1634 prohibits cities and counties from taxing soda or food products. The measure would not prevent the state Legislature from imposing taxes. Seattle's tax on soda and sugary beverages, approved last year, will remain in effect but can't be expanded.

The campaign sponsored by the American Beverage Association spent more than $20 million to pass it. The industry earlier won bans on new, local soda taxes in California, Arizona and Michigan.

The Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo, Inc. and Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, Inc. gave the bulk of money in support. Opponents raised about $33,000.

Proponents said the tax hurts small businesses and working people.

In 2016, 59 percent of Washington state voters rejected a carbon tax that would have used revenu

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio supported the carbon fee while Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg each gave $1 million.

The election also saw big industry spending on other ballot measures including Initiative 1634, backed by the soda industry. The beverage industry targeted Washington state as part of a nationwide effort to stop the expansion of taxes on soda.

I-1634 prohibits cities and counties from taxing soda or food products. The measure would not prevent the state Legislature from imposing taxes. Seattle's tax on soda and sugary beverages, approved last year, will remain in effect but can't be expanded.

The campaign sponsored by the American Beverage Association spent more than $20 million to pass it. The industry earlier won bans on new, local soda taxes in California, Arizona and Michigan.

The Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo, Inc. and Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, Inc. gave the bulk of money in support. Opponents raised about $33,000.

Proponents said the tax hurts small businesses and working people.

In 2016, 59 percent of Washington state voters rejected a carbon tax that would have used revenues to lower sales and business taxes, as well as provide rebates.

I-1631 called for 35 percent of revenues to be spent in the most polluted census tracts, setting aside money to help workers in the fossil fuel industry transition to new jobs and would have required 10 percent to be spent on projects approved by American Indian tribes.

Kenneth Iverson, 64, a longshoreman from Tacoma, voted against the measure, calling it "one more tax."

Barry Rabe, a professor in the Gerald Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan, said the Washington experience underscores the political difficulty of carbon taxes.

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For AP's complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections: http://apne.ws/APPolitics

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