Governor Inslee's biggest legislative push, a state carbon tax, will not move forward this legislative session.
Senator Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle), one of the lead negotiators on the issue, told KING 5 on Thursday the bill doesn't have the votes to pass the Senate floor, despite a Democratic majority this year.
"It looks like we're a vote or two short and it looks unlikely that we'll try to move (the bill) forward this year," said Carlyle, a sponsor of the bill.
The bill, which would have been the first of its kind, passed the Energy, Environment and Technology Committee and Ways and Means Committee, but Senator Carlyle says it doesn't look likely to pass the full Senate, meaning it's essentially dead for now.
The bill proposed a new tax of $10 per metric ton of carbon emissions, lower than the $20 per ton originally proposed by Gov. Inslee.
Sen. Carlyle added, "We have a number of other proposals that are very similar in terms of clean energy and renewable energy and a number of other policies that we're very much fighting for."
Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry even made a trip to Olympia to show his support for the bill.
Opponents of the bill, like Sen. Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale), criticized the bill saying it would force businesses to leave the state and hurt working families.
A coalition of environmental, labor and other groups have said they will move ahead with a citizen's initiative this November if the Legislature did not act on a carbon policy.
Kyle Murphy, Executive Director of Carbon Washington released the following statement Thursday:
After a decade of inaction on climate change, our elected leaders have a duty and obligation to enact public policy to reduce carbon. It is clear that people in Washington want action. The legislature’s continued failure to do so is disturbing.
SB 6203 made history as the first carbon tax in the country to be voted out of two legislative committees, and by coming within a single vote or two in the Senate. The support from environmental, tribal, and business interests was groundbreaking and builds on considerable progress in Washington to elevate a conversation about climate change and a price on carbon. While I-732, the nation’s first carbon tax initiative put to Washington voters in 2016 didn’t pass at the polls, it was the basis for four carbon pricing bills introduced in the 2017 legislature, and created an opportunity for the legislature to seriously consider SB 6203 in the 2018 session.
Climate action in Washington is coming. Opponents of this bill achieved little beyond a temporary delay in our inevitable trajectory toward a clean energy future. Carbon Washington will now focus its efforts on putting a price on carbon this year at the ballot or next year in the legislature.
Future generations are counting on us and we will continue to mobile citizens, provide leadership, and advocate for effective, equitable, economically sound, evidence-based, and politically feasible policies to address climate change.