State-level climate and low-carbon energy policies are getting a lot more attention as the White House unwinds Obama-era federal efforts.
So here are a couple new developments...
1. Run it back: Two years after a carbon tax ballot measure failed in Washington state, another fight over a differently designed proposal is in the offing. A coalition of tribes, community, labor and environment groups say they've gathered enough signatures to put a carbon fee measure on the ballot, per AP.
- AP and other outlets report that backers submitted over 370,000 signatures yesterday, far above the minimum needed for Initiative 1631.
- The measure creates a $15-per-ton CO2 tax that would rise by $2 annually, with revenue used for renewable energy, low-carbon transport, forestry and other projects.
Buzz: The energy industry has been "galvanized" into forming a political action committee against the measure, called No on 1631, and includes pledges from BP, Shell, Chevron, Phillips 66 and others, according to Public Disclosure Commission records, the Seattle Times reports.
Context: The Seattle Times notes that the failed 2016 measure was structured differently...
"The 2016 carbon measure also was burdened by a nasty split in the state environmental community over whether it was the right way to move forward. The measure was intended be revenue neutral, cutting some taxes while raising taxes on fossil fuels that generate emissions."
2. New legal fight: Rhode Island yesterday sued several major oil companies, including ExxonMobil and BP, for contributing to climate change, which has damaged state infrastructure and coastal communities, Reuters reports.
Why it matters: It's the latest in a string of lawsuits seeking to force the industry to pay for the infrastructure and other costs of dealing with climate effects like rising seas.
- But it's also the first to be brought by a state government. Cases in New York, California and Colorado have been filed by municipal or regional officials.
- The lawsuit in the state court comes just days after a federal judge in California tossed out litigation against oil companies, claiming executive and legislative action — not the courtroom — is how the topic should be addressed.
What's next: We're looking to see how the oil industry will use the California decision in its fight against similar lawsuits in other venues.