Oil Industry Spent Millions to Defeat Carbon Tax in Washington State


07-12-18 04:41:00,

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Climate change appeared on the ballot in numerous states during the 2018 midterm elections, an indication of the growing concern among average citizens about the catastrophic effects of fossil fuel burning. But the struggle for regulations on emissions was repeatedly blocked by the money machinery of the oil industry. Record amounts of money were spent trying to derail the efforts of activists and labor unions fighting to save the environment. One such instance was over Initiative 1631 in Washington State where the oil industry spent more than $30 million trying to sabotage the struggle for a better world. In this exclusive Truthout interview, Jeff Johnson — who led the fight for the passing of Initiative 1631 — reflects on the lessons activists nationwide can draw for the future from the climate change struggle in Washington State.

C.J. Polychroniou: Jeff, share with me the background of the movement you led in Washington State for climate change and Initiative 1631.

Jeff Johnson: For the record, I am one of seven leaders representing communities of color, the environmental community, tribes and labor that came together to form the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy. The Alliance spent three years building a climate justice movement based on principles of equity and giving assistance and voice to those most disproportionately impacted by climate disaster. Initiative 1631 was a product of this work.

I-1631 created a carbon fee of $15 a metric ton on carbon pollution and would have used the resulting $2.3 billion generated over five years to invest in clean energy, clean water and healthy forests – creating tens of thousands of family wage jobs and pulling 20 million tons of CO2 out of the air every year.

I-1631 would have codified a “Just Transition” for our communities in the following ways:

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