AIA Seattle Endorses I-1631 to Establish a Fee on Carbon Emissions

AIA Seattle’s Board of Directors has endorsed Washington Initiative 1631, the Protect Washington Act, which would establish a carbon fee to reduce incentives for fossil fuel use, generate funds to invest in renewable resources and promote energy efficiency.

 I-1631 levies a fee on the production, distribution or use of fossil fuels based on how much carbon their combustion emits. The initiative would create a fee of $15 per metric ton of carbon released into the atmosphere, with the fee rising annually by $2 plus the rate of inflation. In 2035, the price will be about $40 per ton in today’s dollars and at that point will either freeze or continue to rise, depending on whether the state is on track to meet its statutory greenhouse gas targets. These targets, adopted by the state legislature in 2008, direct the state to limit emissions of greenhouse gasses to 1990 levels by 2020, 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2035 and 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Washington is currently not on pace to achieve these targets.

The pollution fee would be imposed on large emitters based on the carbon content of:

  • fossil fuels sold or used by the emitter in Washington, and
  • electricity generated within or imported for consumption in Washington by the emitter.

Among the revenues generated by the carbon fee imposed by I-1631, 70 percent would be set aside for clean air and clean-energy investments; 25 percent for clean water and healthy forests; and five percent for low-income and minority communities who are adversely impacted by climate pollution.  The spending would go through the legislative-appropriation process and a public-oversight board would be established to help monitor the investments.

From the Board’s endorsement:

AIA Seattle has a history of supporting carbon pricing mechanisms as an essential method of fighting climate change. We support this effort to make Washington the first state in our country to impose a carbon fee as a necessary first step in what we hope will ultimately be a more robust scheme to combat climate change. Should the initiative pass, we will work with state officials to ensure that built environment projects are prominent among those supported by revenues generated by the initiative. We will also advocate for increases in the fee to make it a more powerful price signal that will transform our industry and incentivize high performance building.

Signatures Needed
I-1631 proponents are currently working to collect 260,000 registered voter signatures across the state, which much be turned in by July 6. If you are a registered voter and are interested in signing the petition, copies are available at the Center for Architecture and Design. Staff are also available to bring signature sheets to interested offices.

Please contact Kirsten Smith for more information.

Resources
I-1631 initiative language
Washington State greenhouse gas targets
Yes on 1631
Carbon Washington analysis of I-1631

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