Our Voice: Inslee’s cap and trade a bad idea for Washington

Our state’s governor has made it clear he is a champion of the environment.

Good for him. We’re all for stewardship of the earth and making our world a better place for all those who inhabit it.

But Gov. Inslee’s job starts at home — in the state that elected him to represent all of its residents.

And for a former Eastern Washington guy, Inslee sure seems to have forgotten those who live on this side of the state. Nowhere is that more apparent than in his cap-and-trade proposal.

Inslee’s legislative agenda is working its way through Olympia as HB 1314; it would require those on the target list to buy permits in order to emit carbon at specified levels. The proceeds from that could help pay for fixes needed in the state’s transportation and education systems, both areas in need of some serious money infusions.

While we agree education and transportation improvements are responsibilities this state’s leadership must find funding solutions for, cap-and-trade is not the answer. If the cap-and-trade were successful, the revenues would decrease and schools and transportation would be left underfunded, again. At best, if successful, the plan is a stopgap.

First off, the one-size-fits-all plan to reduce carbon emissions is not in the least bit fair or equitable. With his “Dirty 130” list of the biggest offenders in the state, Inslee takes aim at businesses that — by their very nature — use a lot more energy, like food production plants. Targets of the proposed carbon tax include Agrium, Tyson Fresh Meats and LambWeston/ConAgra, some of the largest employers in our community.

The list also includes operations like Washington State University. It hardly seems fair to tax our state’s university system because it is a large operation with lots of facilities and occupants and, therefore, uses a great deal of energy.

If the plan becomes law, companies on the list will have to find a way to absorb the costs. That will likely come in the form of laying off employees or passing along price increases on products to consumers. That hardly seems like a win for the state, but it is the reality of business when legislation for what, in essence, is a new tax is mandated. The bottom line has to be held in check or businesses will close, further damaging the state’s economy.

All businesses should take a hard look at their energy consumption and emissions. Industry best practices and stewardship are important to implement. But if you think these companies aren’t doing a lot of that already, you’re wrong. It’s in their best interest to decrease power consumption because it saves them money.

Most everyone has come to the realization that there is more that we can and should do to protect the environment. We have a common goal, but cap-and-trade is not a reasonable solution here. Let’s get the stakeholders to the table to find solutions that work for all of Washington.