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Climate Change

Transparent Statement:
I am a tree hugger and I am tired of hearing about climate change.

I am definitely what you would call a tree hugger. But I am truly sick and tired of every environmental group focusing on climate change. Yes, I believe humans are impacting the climate and that we need to make changes for the benefit of our planet and all its inhabitants.

But, at the risk of sounding racist (and sexist), climate change is a rich white man's problem. We have polluted our land, our water, our air and ourselves over the past 200 years. Well, actually not ourselves. We made sure to negatively impact only poor people and communities of color.

Our standard of living has benefitted from destroying the lives (and health) of others. The battlecry for "Climate Change" is simply a way to make us feel guilty (and rightfully so) and convince us to solve the problems we have created, even if we made sure they did not directly affect us.

We create factories that pollute the land, water and air — but we don't live near those factories. It is not our children that have asthma, breathe toxic air, drink polluted water, or deal with the other direct impacts. So we evidently need a reason to care enough to change our ways.

Yes, I am being overly dramatic here. But the point is simple — I am not obsessed about solving climate change. I am interested in solving the myriad of problems we have created that directly impact people, of which climate change also happens to be a result.

Voter Initiatives

There may be 2 initiative on the ballot this fall related to climate change. Initiative 732 is a carbon-tax on emissions from fossil fuels. It is intended to be revenue neutral by also lowering the sales tax from 6.5% to 5.5% and offering rebates to low-income households. A separate potential initiative would be similar, but is intended to raise revenue to be invested in clean energy projects.

I am not in favor of Initiative 732. The State is already under-funding education, mental health, state parks and just about everything else. Even if the initiative were truly revenue neutral, this measure simply moves the taxes around. More importantly, as carbon pollution decreases, the amount raised by this carbon tax would also decrease, leading to an inevitable decrease in State revenue. Raising awareness of climate change is a noble effort, but I do not see how this particular measure actually benefits the environment, the people or the State.

Without knowing the details, I am undecided on the potential initiative that would tax emissions to invest in clean energy. I am not opposed to a carbon tax per se, but am unlikely to personally advocate for it unless I felt it would truly enhance our State. I do prefer this type of revenue-enhancing tax over I-732, especially if it helps reduce future pollution.

To be honest though, I doubt there is sufficient voter support for either initiative. But I have no doubt these measures would truly be a ballot battle of Seattle vs. the rest of the State. I am concerned about the impact of higher gasoline taxes on rural areas and would want to ensure that any carbon tax truly benefits all people in this State.

Steve Rubenstein for Governor | Privacy Policy