By Tim Pearce
Microsoft founder Bill Gates endorsed a Washington state proposal to implement a fee on carbon emissions Tuesday as environmentalists try to build popular support in the state to take action to cut emissions from fossil fuels.
“Here in Washington state, climate change is on the ballot,” Gates wrote. “If Initiative 1631 passes in November, it will create a fee on emissions that cause climate change, with the goal of boosting the effort to stop the planet from getting disastrously warm.”
While the proposal is technically labeled as a “fee” on carbon, the toll operates similar to a tax and is only classified differently because of unique Washington state rules on what constitutes a tax, according to the nonprofit Tax Foundation.
If passed, the bill would levy a fee of $15 per metric ton of carbon emissions on large fossil fuel emitters, namely utilities and refiners. The tax will then increase by $2 annually until the state as a whole is on track to meet emissions goals set for 2035 and 2050, the Tax Foundation says.
The baseline $15 per metric ton of carbon emissions-tax translates into an extra 13 cents per gallon of gas, according to Resources for the Future.
“Revenues [from the fee] would be dedicated to environmental efforts, with 70 percent dedicated to a clean air and clean energy account, 25 percent dedicated to a clean water and health forest account, and 5 percent dedicated to a healthy communities account,” Tax Foundation policy analyst Jared Walczak wrote in September.
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