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Bellevue Chamber News & Happenings: Bellevue Chamber News

Bellevue Chamber Takes a Pass on Initiative 1631

Thursday, October 4, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Ashley Clemmer
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October 2, 2018
Media Contact: Chris Johnson
(425) 454-2464
cjohnson@bellevuechamber.org


BELLEVUE CHAMBER TAKES A PASS ON INITIATIVE 1631

In opposing this initiative, the Chamber says it prefers incentives to carbon reduction mandates.


Bellevue, WA – The Bellevue Chamber of Commerce has announced it will decline to support Initiative 1631, which seeks to impose a new carbon emissions fee, beginning at $15 per ton in 2020. The Chamber strongly supports carbon reduction but believes the costs of this measure to businesses and consumers are too high.

If adopted, Initiative 1631 would impose an escalating energy tax on Washington business and families for years to come. According to the state Office of Financial Management, that amounts to $3.2 billion in increased costs in gasoline and heating fuel, as well as electricity, natural gas and other energy sources. For starters, the immediate impact at the pump is expected to be 15 cents per gallon and that is just next year. To make matters worse for consumers of energy, the fee will continue to rise year after year until at least 2035.

Supporters of Initiative 1631 claim the fee will be imposed upon the most egregious corporate polluters. Unfortunately, so-called Energy Intensive Trade Industries, including in-state coal-fired plants, as well as pulp and paper mills and chemical manufacturers, will be exempt from the new fee. To make matters worse, there are no general B&O or sales tax reductions to lessen the impact of the carbon emission feed on small and medium-sized businesses and working families. And, revenue collected by the measure will be allocated by an unelected board, with no guaranteed direct participation by legislators, small business owners or taxpayers.

“The Chamber strongly supports the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and believes this can best be done by a system of incentives, rather than mandates,” said outgoing Bellevue Chamber Board Chair Jim Hill. “With all the exemptions being handed out to so-called Energy Intensive Trade Industries, Initiative 1631 ends up being a tax on business and individuals who consume energy.”

The Chamber believes the best way to reduce carbon is through electrification of the transportation sector. In partnership with other business organizations and NGO’s, the Chamber is actively supporting deployment of flexible, electric van pools on I-405/SR 167, the siting of zero-emission vehicle charging stations in Bellevue and along I-405 and will support legislation in the coming session to restore an alternative fuel vehicle tax exemption or credit, and electrification of public sector agency fleet vehicles. Moreover, the Chamber will collaborate with other business organizations to ensure Volkswagen settlement funds are spent in way that achieves real carbon reduction sooner, rather than later.

The Bellevue Chamber serves as the voice of business on the Eastside, representing thousands of jobs in our community. Businesses range in size from sole proprietors to large corporations. The Chamber's mission is to foster a healthy business environment by providing strategic leadership, advocacy, tools, and resources for business success.

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