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Big Oil Spending Tens of Millions to Defeat Washington State's Groundbreaking Carbon Fee Initiative


Big Oil Spending Tens of Millions to Defeat Washington State's Groundbreaking Carbon Fee Initiative

Andrea Germanos, staff writer

One way the global climate crisis is appearing on U.S. ballots on Tuesday is through Washington state's Initiate 1631, a measure that would enact the nation's first carbon fee. And the fossil fuel industry is dumping tens of millions of dollars into the state to defeat the measure the proponents say could be a "game-changer" for curbing global warming.

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My headline:



Millions when in this world All is measured in billions? Make these planet killers a counter offer! We can come up with the necessary Chump Change, can’t we?



I sure hope this passes. Every other commercial on TV & radio around here is for the vote no on 1631 campaign. This is every Washingtonians chance to stick it to the man! The oil man that is.



i waited until yesterday, after completing the rest of my ballot a week ago, but i finally voted “yes” on 1631. But there is some truth to your assessment. 1631 also exempts airplane fuel – because, Boeing. And it is absurdly complex in the oversight boards and application processes and funding pathways (i actually read the entire initiative, several pages of small print in the 8-1/2 x 11 voter guide).

But at least it will funnel some funds toward programs that develop and promote renewable energy. It’s decidedly a “capitalist” initiative, but as such, it’s a small improvement.



I voted for it.

Locally, UW’s Cliff Mass who gives a weekly weather roundup on KNKX on Fridays is against it, saying that a better crafted measure could have been written and that this one is full of problems and lacks oversight. He even wrote the rebuttal for the “for” section in the Voter’s Pamphlet. Cliff is usually influential from his position if authority as a popular atmospheric scientist.

Unfortunately, the Seattle Area and Washington State in general have a poor record on agreeing on things that are good for us here. You would think that with Microsoft, Boeing and now Amazon, that we could solve our problems quickly. But it took years and several attempts to figure out some sort of light rail system and now we are building it finally when it was so much cheaper to do so decades ago. Same with replacing the earthquake-vulnerable eyesore called the SR-99 Viaduct that goes around Downtown Seattle above ground. It is finally being replaced by a tunnel which will be open in a few months. Again, building it with today’s top dollars when it would have cost less years ago.

So this Initiative may be full of problems and inconsistencies. If it wouldn’t have any impact on the oil producers, then why are they spending so much to defeat it? We need this shot across their bow - finally and we don’t have the time to figure out a better Initiative, same as we don’t have the time to argue as to whether or not Human-Caused Global Warming even exists. We have run out of time.

Please vote For it, and for a similar measure in Oregon.



Voting tomorrow for Democrats or Republicans supports Big Oil’s continued destruction of our planets air and water.



A number of things need to happen imo. A like governor has to replace Brown when the time comes, and further alternative energy standards have to be initiated. Less demand.
If all else fails, remember what Sadam did to his oil wells when Americans came. We might have to do the same to save the planet.



Actually, this isn’t a bad thing. One of the problems with fossil fuels is that they have enormous externalities – i.e. costs that are not recognized in the price. By raising the price, you more accurately reflect the cost to society of consuming the good and you make the alternative, and in this case, cleaner alternatives, more economic.

If you’re really interested in solving the climate problem, you want fossil fuels to be as expensive as possible.

Fortunately, in many sectors, like the electric sector, fossil fuels are already more expensive than renewable energy resources and utilities are starting to recognize that – even the ones that don’t want to, so part of that battle is behind us (though not completely).

For the reasons I stated above, I disagree. If you don’t think higher prices depress demand and vice versa, you’ve haven’t been paying attention.

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Sorry about the switch to California, but still makes sense.



Cliff Mass is a vainglorious know-nothing who believes his position as a UW weather professor makes him expert in all things. On his blog, he continually downplays climate change and undercuts every message put out by real climate scientists. He is that sort of dangerous that comes out of having a little knowledge.

Yes, the infamous Seattle Process–whereby every conceivable grievance group is consulted and years go by in talking and talking, confusing this with actually doing something–has sunk many good ideas. However, enough people have moved here that all the old white people who want it to be 1955 tomorrow are simply being outnumbered. Seattle is turning into a real city, kicking and screaming, but it’s getting there because of all the new people.

1631 is much inferior to I-732 from two years ago, but it’s soemthing, and since it throws something to every grievance group, it has a shot. The fact that Big Oil is dumping so much money to defeat it proves it’s a real threat to them.



I’m a grievance group!

Please spend some of the carbon money on prototype houses that successfully store solar heat in some kind of thermal mass (e.g. in two inch rocks) and then the house heats itself on winter nights.

Spend some of it on advancing the art and science of solar power towers so that they don’t kill any birds, but still deliver rock-bottom electricity costs after sunset when we need to turn the lights on. Help every renewables competitor to power towers too, until you’re sure that the other option has lost out.

Next, prototype a new transit system that hangs from cables, so that it solves the last mile problem. Simultaneously, work on short-term, lower-handprint car innovations such as smarter traffic lights, an electric bus with two sets of battery packs, a way to be sure that your bus is coming (or not coming) in a blizzard,…

We need to reverse the Arctic meltdown, probably with wind powered snow making and ice making devices. If someone else has a better idea, go for it.

We need merit-based renewables/conservation R&D, as distinctly opposed to eminence-based doling out of the dollars or corruption-based funding. This means some jury needs to know what works and what doesn’t, which projects need work and which will have to wait.



As a many decades-long Washington State citizen and registered voter, I’ll vote for I-1631 – BUT!!! – with a truckload of unanswered perplexity along with that vote.

I, too, read the whole initiative and the part that still has yet to be answered by its proponents is “Why are the fossil fuel exporters exempt from ANY AND All consideration of being included?” It states quite clearly the fuels brought IN to the State intended for export – regardless of which destination, foreign or domestic --are exempt from this or any other tax. (Side note: There are NO native fossil fuel sources in Washington State. EVERY erg of it is from outside its boundaries.)
One of my long-term complaints about the vast majority of non-conservatives is their complete lack of understanding of what the corporate uses to justify ALL prices – The most basic hidden law of theirs, that being the Laws of Supply:Demand Ratio.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supply_and_demand :

“In microeconomics, supply and demand is an economic model of price determination in a market.”

The primary argument the oil/petroleum/fossil MEGAPACs are pushing every few minutes on EVERY station in every media and all those glossy bullsh!t mailers one is getting every mail day state in no uncertain terms that I-1631 will cost Washington energy consumers lots of cash. That’s the grand sum of their argument against it. The fact is these same oil-producers, shippers, exporters, extractors (mostly by fracking and Canadian tar sands) NEVER mention the artificial distortion the export of these SINGLE USE resources imposes on those self-same Laws of Supply:Demand Ratio in the consumer-level of pricing those resources.


Check out the chart and details of current DAILY EXPORTS (those numbers are in the THOUSANDS OF BARRELS PER DAY!!! – that’s 42 gallons per barrel and it does NOT include refined products, like gasoline, diesel, jet fuel or those millions of tons of plastics and their precursors along with all the other chemicals derived from crude oil and natural gas – EVERY DAY).

Washington State is and has been a West Coast target state for these exports, from our ports, to the rest of the world. Millions of Barrels each week. Plus LNG and coal.

The one thing that’s NOT in dispute is every erg is GOING TO BE BURNED. None of it is going back INTO the ground.

SO, since the export of these carbon fuels diminishes the supply available for domestic consumption yet IS destined to be burned anyway BY FOREIGN Corporations (multi-nationals based IN the US), why would the crafters NOT include these exports subject to this tax?

Like I said, I’m voting FOR I-1631, but for crying out loud! When will those who claim to be environmentalists get a clue and think just a bit deeper before they go shooting their wad at the moon? These export exemptions make NO sense whatsoever.


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Before you buy any further into that wind turbines kill birds hypothetical (most of the birds “found” are planted in and around these wind turbine sites, deposited (dumped) by small planes flying overhead at night and paid for by the fossil fuel industry), try comparing that alleged “kill rate per megawatt” with that of the burning of all types of carbon-based fossil fuels and see which one kills more birds. Historically, that lies with the carbon fuels. Never have seen a bird hit by a traveling wind turbine going down the freeway but I have seen more than my share on ANY residential street killed by cars going 25mph or less on every road, urban, suburban or rural.




Well you have made sense of it for us. It’s nice to have a source on CD to to fill us in. We are not all well read on this subject. Washington state has a lot of other thins going on as well.



I voted for it even though I know it won’t do anything to solve the problem and more likely will lead those concerned about global warming to think they’ve solve the problem and so do nothing.

You all, who’ve followed me on this issue, know I think a carbon tax is a terrible way to deal with this. That so many who think they are progressive buy into the idea means they’ve been brainwashed by NeoLiberalism into thinking ‘market solutions’ are actually solutions.

I agree with you Tom that this will just get passed on to the working class and poor who can’t afford it- making it a regressive tax as all sales taxes are, even if they are sin taxes. Meanwhile it won’t do a thing to stop the big fat fossil fuel companies from dumping more and more carbon into the atmosphere as they’ll find ways around it.

But in the end I couldn’t support this symbol being stopped dead in its tracks by big Oil’s money.



Not just cars, or carbon fuels. Standard downtown skyscrapers, among many other things, kill birds at higher rates than wind turbines do, with zero attention.

Never heard of dead bird dumps. Got any sources for that?



Not just cars, or carbon fuels. Standard downtown skyscrapers, among many other things, kill birds at higher rates than wind turbines do, with zero attention.

Never heard of dead bird dumps. Got any sources for that?



Sorry about it appearing I simply quoted your post. Not yet used to the absurd navigation Common Dreams has designed for their comments section.

My reply, in full:

Reply: Source? Socratic Logic, considering the sponsors (money behind the originators of the subject – wind turbine bird kills). Who stands to gain by dissing wind turbines? Who stands to gain by showing ecologists alleged evidence of eco-damages by one form of energy generation, never once mentioning the harm done by the status quo? The dumping by planes at night is just one example of how they get deposited near the turbines.
Birds are NOT slow thinkers. While they may not think in complex hypotheticals, they do exist in a far more hyper-state than us foot-draggers. They aren’t distracted by daydreaming, applying their make-up, tuning the radio, texting their BFF or doing their homework while in transit. The speeds those blades travel are far too slow to catch birds unawares. Now, can they be distracted? Certainly. But when compared to eating polluted feeds? Or inhaling toxic air? The saying, “canary in the coal mine” isn’t a fantasy.

Same kind of situation with those who are behind the “chem trails” idiocy. Who stands to gain by distracting people’s attention away from the reality of their target for blame-diversion, carbon fuel burning as the principle cause for Anthropogenic Climate Change? They claim it’s the government spraying aluminum alloy particles from secret tanks in the wings of the planes, or from secrert additives in the fuel used, yet when examined, ignore one simple fact: the very molecules they claim are being deliberately released causing global climate change are the EXACT same molecules the very skin of EVERY plane is made of. Yet when challenged, they refuse to address that. They refuse to acknowledge that skin of each plane is comprized of trillions and quadrillions of such molecules and they are constantly being abraded away by the passing of air (and the solids floating in it) when traveling at 400, 500 or more miles per hour. The skin of a ten-year old plane is measurably thinner but it would take many, many more decades of continuous flight to actually wear a visible hole. Do passenger jets pollute the upper atmosphere? Of course. And with molecules rarely if ever actually being at those rarefied altitudes – oxidized hydrocarbons? But deliberate dumping of aluminum compounds? Gimme a break!

Deep Throat of Watergate fame said it all: FOLLOW THE MONEY! When there are human matters of cause and/or effect that defy logic, the answers show up when one follows the money to its sources.



That is why I am voting for it too. On one hand yes it could be the equivalent of kicking the can down the road. But on the other hand I hate seeing Big Oil win and I feel if they do manage to defeat this bill it will end up just demoralizing the people more. So yes the bill is not nearly enough but I don’t see any good reason not to vote for it. If Big Oil is fighting it then it must have some merit.

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