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Washington Voters Facing First-In-Nation Carbon Tax Initiative

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ARNOLD PAUL, CC BY 3.0
Buried in the avalanche of election news surrounding the U.S. presidential election, a unique ballot measure in Washington state has received minimal attention outside the Evergreen State. There, voters will be asked whether they want to assess a direct carbon tax on coal, oil and natural gas.

Proponents say the first-of-its-kind initiative accelerates the path to clean energy. Opponents say the tax would drive up energy costs and threaten businesses.

Most surprising, the Associated Press reports some high-profile environmental groups aren't supporting Initiative 732. The Sierra Club, OneAmerica, Washington Environmental Council, and Front and Centered all say they worked on an alternative carbon-pricing measure that was nixed in favored of I-732.

Meanwhile, supporters say the initiative has a better chance of passage by being "revenue neutral," arguing the carbon tax would be offset by decreases in other taxes.

Analysts say Washington's proposed carbon tax is modeled after a current revenue stream in the Canadian province of British Columbia. If approved, Washington's carbon tax would start at $15 per ton of carbon emission and climb to $25 in its second year with incremental increases going forward.