Letter to the editor: Facts about clean air initiative 1631

Dear Editor:
How to tell fake news from real news is one of the challenges of our times. It takes time and energy to maneuver through all the questions: Can I trust the source? Does it ring true? Am I just believing because it fits my world view? What fears is this playing on? Can I verify it?
Such a challenge is plainly visible when talking about Initiative 1631, the clean air initiative that will show up in your Washington ballot this November.
There are now television ads playing that are very well-done, funded by a few oil companies, sounding environmentally concerned, protective of Washington’s natural resources, and stating that energy prices will go up. Or you may have had a pro-1631 canvasser knock on your door and present the opposite view.
How to tell the difference?
I liked this Snohomish County website because it is neutral  –
If you click on I-1631, you get options. The two most useful for me were The Arguments For and Against, and Who donated to these ballot measure campaigns? There you will see the opposing arguments laid out, and you can verify that Western States Petroleum Association gave $21,316,694.13. That is over $21 million. Compare it to the others and see that total money in favor of 1631 is less than $8.5 million.
So then I researched Western States Petroleum Association to see if they had a financial stake on continuing to use fossil fuels and I found that it, “represents companies that account for the bulk of petroleum exploration, production, refining, transportation and marketing in the five western states of Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.” www.wspa.org/about/
Is it possible that these oil companies who have been polluting our common airspace don’t want us to hold them accountable and don’t want to pay for their pollution? Check out dontspoilwa.org for more on what oil companies have spent on lobbying and how much they have polluted Washington state.
Why was so little money raised in favor? Perhaps the history of how 1631 came about could shed light on that.
On the pro side, I-1631 is supported by groups like the American Lung Association, The Nature Conservancy and the League of Women Voters, scientists, unions, communities of color organizations, environmental groups, clean energy companies, health professionals, businesses, faith organizations, and tribal nations.https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/08/washington-state-carbon-tax/567523/ They met for two years to agree on common language and ideas with the intention of representing the interests of the majority of the people.
The Washington Budget and Policy Center debunked the claims of energy prices rising. https://budgetandpolicy.org/schmudget/i-1631-invests-in-what-matters
And if you believe scientists, you could look at https://www.scientistsfor1631.com.
I hope that this research will help you take a more jaded eye at the “news” and give you ways to verify that you are voting based on real facts.
Carmen Rumbaut
  1. Thank you Carmen. I have been reading my voters pamphlet and the fact that the oil company’s are against this passing says a lot. Also the debunkinking of the energy prices means a lot to me as well

  2. I am very leery about passing large measures via initiative. It is just too easy to bury gotcha’s that won’t be exposed for years to come and manipulate the public to get it passed. Would much rather see large measures go through the legislature and make them stand and fall on how they play out. If they “can’t” do tough things why have them there?

  3. As long as the author claims to differentiate fake news from real news it might be useful to differentiate fake debunking from real debunking.

    The link to which the ‘debunking’ statement in this letter is attached very clearly points out that the increased direct costs to the average Washington household will be $159/year: “In reality, I-1631 would raise high-carbon fuel and energy costs by an average of $13 per month per Washington household in 2020.” and “Dividing the amount of carbon pollution fee’s estimated to be paid by individuals ($472,000,000) in 2020 by the estimated number of households in Washington state for that year (2,969,980) yields an average household cost of $159 in 2020.”.

    Moreover, if the costs to businesses ($387,000,000) are passed on to the consumer, which is what typically happens when businesses are hit with higher fees, indirect costs to the consumer will rise by roughly an additional $130/year per household. Combine those direct and indirect consumer costs and the average household will pay $300 MORE per year, one way or another, if this initiative passes.

    It’s disingenuous for the author of the letter to suggest that an initiative that will raise costs to producers by $858,000,000 per year (same link) won’t have a material financial effect on consumers. Whether the benefit is worth the cost is an individual decision for each voter to make, but the voters should not be misled to believe that the cost is zero. There’s no free lunch in life.

    It’s unfortunate that letters are published so uncritically.

  4. What exactly is the money supposed to be spent on and is there anyway to make sure it is spent that way for eternity or is it like when the lottery was passed to help funds schools but was always slated to eventually go into the general fund.

    This initiative seems like it boils down to:

    we are going to take a bunch of money from evil people.

    it is going to be spent on unknown good things by unknown good people.

    the evil people that are losing their money for some reason will just accept this and not find a way to pass the cost on to us, despite the fact they are evil.

    After we get used to doing this we will never just decide to demand more and more and more because…

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