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Initiative 1631 is garnering national press; here’s what they’re saying

State initiatives typically get local press leading up to an election. This year’s Washington State Initiative 1631, better known as the carbon fee initiative, is garnering national attention as well.

Two major national publications’ editorial boards have written about the initiative. The Wall Street Journal editorial board was critical of the fee, noting emissions that would be exempt:

“The story in Washington shows that liberals care more about increasing tax revenue to spend than they do about reducing emissions.”

The New York Times editorial board, on the other hand, issued hearty support:

“Washington State voters will decide next week whether to impose a fee on carbon emissions. We hope they do.”

Both stressed that passage of I-1631 would have national implications for future legislation. Stories from The Washington Post and NBC gave local context, rehashed local debates, and speculated on what those national implications may be.

“If the measure is adopted, Washington would become the first state in the nation to tax carbon dioxide, the most prevalent greenhouse gas,” reads a piece from The Washington Post.

McClatchy’s DC Bureau published a helpful, succinct rundown of the bill. And perhaps the most in-depth look came from Vox, which published a piece on the initiative that tops 3,500 words, plus infographics. That piece forecasted national impacts should the initiative fail:

“If 1631 fails, it will be a serious blow: a blow to the credibility of state leaders who held out on 732 in favor of this strategy; a blow to climate policy in Washington, which already has so many slapstick failures it’s starting to look like a Buster Keaton movie; and a blow to the larger effort to create a West Coast coalition of states leading on climate change. In an election season when the fate of the nation seems at stake, it’s difficult to take anything else in, but when it comes to climate policy — not only in Washington, not only in the Northwest, but nationally — the upcoming vote in Washington really matters.”

Other articles zeroed in on the striking amount of money that’s been pouring into efforts for and against the initiative. An article from Quartz placed the spotlight on the big names who put money behind it — namely, Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg.

BuzzFeed and another piece from The Washington Post featured I-1631 alongside other initiatives that oil companies are fighting. Reuters published a piece centered completely on the “No on 1631” campaign.

“The U.S. oil industry has spent a record $30 million to fight a ballot measure in Washington state that would create the nation’s first carbon tax, double what an alliance of green groups and billionaire activists has spent to support it, according to state data reviewed by Reuters,” the Reuters piece reads.

No other initiative on Washington ballots this year has made so many national headlines. In fact, we could find only two other national articles on Washington initiatives this year: one on I-940 and one on I-1639, both from McClatchy’s DC Bureau.

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