But most of the political left sees it differently. When they look at carbon pricing they see a big new revenue stream that can be used to fund all the things they have been unable to get in a period of conservative (or neoliberal) political dominance. They want infrastructure, mass transit, community development projects and environmental restoration, and for them returning the money is unthinkable. So the left in Washington State, including unions, social justice organizations and most of the environmental activist community, opposed 732, denouncing it as a corporate subterfuge. A carbon tax is always going to face headwinds, but with the left as well as much of the right in opposition, it was doomed.
So here we are again, looking at another round of state carbon tax initiatives for 2018. The group that organized the left campaign against 732, the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy, is drafting their version, which will surely funnel most of the money to the causes (and in some cases the organizations) of their constituents. But, perhaps in a play to get a bigger voice in the process, the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, an umbrella group of 57 tribal governments in the region, has just announced it has begun drafting its own initiative, one that earmarks most of the money for environmental purposes, with a chunk dedicated to the tribes. The prospect is for heated backroom meetings, where the leadership of various organizations push and pull to divvy up the potential carbon cash. Whether the product of this process can survive at the polls is another question.