October 16, 2018
Meeting was called to order by Matthew Rainwater at 7:30am. Mike French led the flag salute.
Peggy N. moved to accept Oct. 9 meeting minutes, seconded by Gayla. Motion passed.
Matthew announced that PABA member George Bergner passed away and the group observed a moment of silence.
The Soroptomist Noon Club is raising money by selling Elegant Gourmet books for $10 and performed a song.
Kaj moved to extend the meeting up to 15 minutes. Bob Forsberg seconded. Motion passed.
Program: Initiative I-1631. Todd Myers from WA Policy Center; Stephanie from Blue Green Alliance; Diane and Ed from Olympic Climate Patrol (John Brewer, moderator)
In Stephanie’s opening remarks she said she is part of the group that wrote the original policy which is a fee on the largest carbon polluters. It promotes clean air, healthy forests and community assistance with investments targeted to committees that need it most. $21M has been spent in the “NO” campaign so far.
Ed added that he worked for NOOA and that climate change will happen.
Todd Myers said that two years ago the revenue neutral carbon tax was generally liked. The key is, who pays and how is it effective. The fee will be passed on to citizens starting at 14 cents a gallon, going up indefinitely and an increased cost of $250 per household per year in year one. It creates a 15 member board with no success metrics and total discretion. Tax goes up until it meets their goals which is a disincentive to spend money wisely. Buy renewable energy to help in a different way.
Stephanie said the policy is a fee on large polluters and it’s up to the companies to pass it down if they want. For accountability there is no “they”, there is no seat for a fossil fuel company.
Todd said that the campaign said it’s okay to pass on the cost to citizens. The argument is based on the fact that it gets passed on at 8 cents a therm for natural gas and 14 cents a gallon.
Kaj asked about the impact on rural and urban communities that drive more and are economically distressed.
Todd: There is a big disparity between urban and rural. Rural has fewer options. Eastern WA pays more for home heating. Money can be spent for electric car charging stations but it’s a luxury car. More than half of the cars. 70% are bought in the top 23% highest earning zip codes. They are purchased by the wealthy. It’s not effective to reduce CO2. People will buy them regardless of incentives.
Stephanie: The initiative is written for rural communities to benefit and programs are built in to mitigate costs. 35% will be directly invested in communities that traditionally have less access, could be broadband or electric vehicles. This policy is to change what options are available and to help more people transition to a clean energy economy.
Ed: Added there has been broad input and Diane said gas has already gone up.
Dick P. asked the participants to name one specific organization they would write a check to and what will it do for us.
Stephanie: The initiative is meant to create investment opportunities. It’s set up like a competitive grant structure and they will evaluate project proposals. It allows for innovation. She mentioned a Goldendale WA proposal for a pump storage facility as a hydro loop and generating clean energy.
Todd: Have to show what you’ve achieved, there are no metrics and it’s a waste of opportunity to make a difference. They can grant their panel members money with the Clean Energy Fund, legislators can sweep money in to the general fund. An analysis of projects shows none have achieved their goals.
Bob F asked how much CO2 is produced?
Todd: WA is 30-40%, lowest per capita in the nation. We use dams. Policy requires investment to made in WA, there are things we can do around the country that would be far more effective. The best way is to sequester, harvest and put in building. Mature trees actually give off CO2.
Stephanie: The emission level is 80M metric tons of carbon dioxide. The goal is 20M per year by 2035 and forest is part of the solution. Reduce pollution and stimulate our local economy statewide is a good idea.
Ed: Revenue will support clean energy jobs and make WA a leader in the country. Science also shows soil is a good source of sequestration.
Cherie K. asked about utility bills. With a fixed income population, how will it affect rates?
Stephanie: it depends on the mix of energy they’re selling. The program is structured to target the lowest 40% of earners in the state. Utilities said they are already investing in efficiency.
Todd: Most will be affected by. natural gas and home heating. Even hydro proponents oppose the bill. People using 650-700 therms on average – multiply that by 8 cents. 2035 goals are set in the initiative. Seattle and WA haven’t met a goal yet. What is accountability if you don’t meet a goal? We need a bill with metrics.
Shenna asked what the worst case scenario would be if it doesn’t pass.
Todd: The argument is without this, nothing will get done yet we are reducing our footprint now without a carbon policy. None of us wants to spend more. When Prius as introduced in the 90’s the government didn’t know about hybrids. Nest thermostats uses AI to save energy. We’ll be better off because innovation and technology will take us where we need to go.
Stephanie: The climate will continue to change and we’ll continue to pay for impacts. Asthma, shellfish harvesters pay. The UN said we have 10 years to make significant changes. The American Academy of pediatrics, Lung Association, grocery workers, Bill Gates, all support if and want to help create jobs and stabilize the economy. It’s a sensible first step.
Ed: Added that science says climate change is happening.
Steve B. asked how appropriate incentives are built, citing “Climate Casino” by Bill Nordhaus.
Todd: Said there is a way to achieve it not with government expenditures. They need to put a price on carbon. 1631 will give money to politicians and we should demand success and metrics.
Bill N: says to use technology to do that.
Stephanie: A fee on the externality of pollution makes sense. Government should have a role, a burden on individuals is not the way to go. This policy has the broadest coalition in WA history.
Ed: 1631 does provide incentives for alternate energy, weatherizing homes, etc.
Diane: We always pay more: it’s about return on investment. This fee goes back to the community.
Matthew asked how this policy affects us when BC and China have higher emissions.
Stephanie: We can reduce forest fires and that BC has a revenue neutral carbon tax. WA should set a model for the country and world. China is investing more than we are.
Todd: While he was at the DNR, they said they mismanaged forests. We have too many trees now. If we meet the goal to reduce carbon it will change a t1/1000th of a degree in temperature reduction. CO2 emissions are going down nationwide. Put power in the individuals.
Stephanie: Forest management is important and Hillary Franz supports this policy. We should do our part.
Todd: We should agree to take responsibility for carbon and we should put a price on carbon, but should make a difference.
Connie asked how this initiative will provide clean tech jobs.
Todd: The initiative promises jobs but rural jobs once lost are hard to replace and theyv’e been talking about it for years. There was no plan for WA to succeed in software, book sales and coffee, but it happened. It’s a challenge, but cannot be promised by government.
Stephanie: The initiative targets pulp, paper and aluminum. Broadband, managing forests, flood plain management, road repair, energy upgrades all are possibilities and it leaves room for innovation.
Todd: They’ve spent time and money on feel good projects that don’t help. We need to put power in our own hands. I-1631 does the opposite by putting it in the hands of politicians without metrics for success and no accountability.
Ed: The voter pamphlet gives a fair appraisal of the initiative which has diverse, broad support. We have the opportunity to invest locally, such as in solar panels.
Diane: We should be suspicious of who opposes the initiative and where the money comes from. It will improve jobs and health.
Stephanie: It’s a sensible first step and it has strong accountability measures. It’s structured for everyone to have access.
October 23: County Prosecutor – Mark Nichols and Selinda Barkhuis.
October 30: District Court Judge – Dave Neupert and Susanne Hayden
Meeting adjourned at 8:49am.