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The fight over a ballot initiative that would charge a carbon pollution fee is already drawing big money.

Initiative 1631 would charge large industrial emitters an escalating fee of $15 per metric ton of carbon emissions starting in 2020. Money raised — about $1 billion in the first year — would pay for projects aimed at electrification, pollution reduction and protecting the environment. If passed, it would be the first such direct fee on carbon emissions in the country.

This will be the second time Washington voters will decide whether to put a price on carbon emissions. Voters rejected a carbon tax in 2016.

Campaign records show oil companies have contributed about $8.6 million to defeat the initiative. Phillips 66, BP and Andeavor, formerly Tesoro, have given the bulk of that amount. Proponents have raised $3.8 million with The Nature Conservancy as top donor.

Supporters of Initiative 1631 say the shutdown of a coal plant in southwest Washington could be a model of how the measure will help transition the state to clean energy, as Eric Tegethoff reports.


Photo: Kid Klutch/Flickr

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