Washington state is considering the first carbon tax in the US, which would require energy-intensive manufacturing operations — steel mills and food processers, natural gas power plants, refineries that use fossil fuels, and others — to pay $25 per metric ton of carbon emissions released.
Proponents of the bill say although it would impose a new tax on emissions, it would almost eliminate other business taxes for manufacturers.
Similar carbon-tax proposals have been introduced in legislatures in Vermont, Massachusetts and New York, but Washington’s proposal, which is modeled after one in British Columbia, could become the first to tax carbon emissions, the Associated Press reports.
The state’s lawmakers have until March 10 to enact Initiative 732, which would impose the carbon tax, or offer an alternative proposal or allow voters in November to decide the fate of the carbon-tax measure.
Carbon Washington gathered more than 350,000 signatures to quality the initiative. The group says the proposal is revenue neutral, so while it would increase taxes on fossil fuels, the increase would be offset by decreases in other tax revenues.
The state’s analysis, on the other hand, estimates the measure could cost Washington about $915 million in lost revenues over the first four years, the AP reports.
Analysis from the World Resources Institute released last month finds a carbon price — either a carbon tax or cap-and-trade program — would reduce emissions even more than the US Energy Information Administration has predicted.