Extreme Temperature Diary-November 3, 2018/ Topic: Climate Change On The Ballot

Saturday November 3rd… Dear Diary. The main purpose of this ongoing post will be to track United States extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials)😊.

Climate Change On The Ballot

Unless you are living under a proverbial rock in the United States you know that election day is Tuesday November 6th. Unfortunately, the issue of climate change has become very partisan since the turn of the century, so it behooves all that are focused on the issue to vote Democratic. I’d much rather have seen parties of all stripes demand energy and transportation change in this country by the year 2000, but that was not to be the case. The Republican Party now represents the past trying to garner votes from all those adhering to the interests of big coal and oil instead of a green energy, progressive future. In the more progressive West, and specifically, the state of Washington, a carbon tax is on the ballot:


Here is a full reprint of this rather biased report: 

If Democrats retake Congress in November, a national carbon tax is likely to be part of their agenda. A referendum in Washington state next month is a test of public support.

Two years ago nearly 60% of Washington voters rejected a ballot initiative to impose a “revenue neutral” carbon tax. Green groups opposed the referendum because it wouldn’t generate money for environmental largess. Businesses said it would destroy jobs and increase energy prices, which is true.

Liberals have now fixed what they thought was the fatal flaw of the first referendum—namely, revenue neutrality. This year’s initiative would impose a $15 per ton carbon “fee” that would increase by $2 per year. The tax is designated a fee because the $2.3 billion in revenue it is projected to generate over the next five years would mostly be earmarked for “clean air and energy” programs—such as solar power and electric car subsidies—rather than general spending.

But revenues are fungible, and the carbon tax proceeds would invariably finance government spending in other areas. That has been the case in California where Democrats have used cap-and-trade revenue to finance the state bullet train, low-income housing and public transit in addition to green handouts.

The tax would raise gas prices by 13 cents a gallon in 2020 and 59 cents a gallon by 2035. Washington currently has the third highest gas prices in the country after Hawaii and California, and Seattle commuters won’t relish paying a few extra bucks every time they fill up. Electricity rates would rise modestly, largely because most of the state’s power is already generated by dams.

An analysis by National Economic Research Associates estimates that the tax would cost Washington households on average $440 in 2020 and would reduce state economic growth by 0.4% over the next two years. Not even Washington’s good liberals pretend low-income residents and workers will be held harmless.

Hence the referendum requires that 10% of revenues be spent on reducing energy costs for low-income residents. At least $50 million must also go to support imperiled workers in fossil fuels. Washington processes crude from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale and ranks fifth in the country in oil refining.

The kicker is that some 40% of the state emissions would be exempt including “energy-intensive trade-exposed” industries like aluminum production, diesel used in agriculture, fossil-fuel exports, and fuel purchased by local and state governments. Heaven forfend the tax could cost government union jobs. This political favoritism may mitigate the tax’s adverse economic effects and public opposition. But if liberals are really worried about climate change, why tolerate exceptions?

Washington’s tax might reduce global emissions by all of 0.02% in 2035, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently estimated a global carbon price of between $135 and $5,500 per ton would be necessary to forestall a climate apocalypse. This level of taxation would be a political nonstarter anywhere.

But if the Washington referendum passes, liberals will be emboldened to push carbon copies in other states and Congress. Some on the right advocate a national carbon tax along with a supposed “dividend” for taxpayers, but here all revenue is for Olympia politicians. The story in Washington shows that liberals care more about increasing tax revenue to spend than they do about reducing emissions.

It’s no surprise that big oil is trying to kill any carbon tax measures. The consensus among climate  scientists is that carbon taxes are the best method for mitigation, aiding efforts for a quicker transition to green energy. What surprised me at this juncture in time with the Democrats poised to retake the House is that the party has no real blueprint for the climate change issue once in power:


Quoting from the end of the Guardian article:

But Sarah Hunt, the cofounder of the Joseph Rainey Center for Public Policy, who works with conservatives on climate efforts, said Democrats should offer an “alternative vision”, even if they don’t think it would succeed with Trump in the White House.

Elan Strait, the World Wildlife Fund’s US climate campaigns director, argued the action just isn’t in Washington.

“There’s no cigar back room where people are hammering out a climate deal because that’s not where the movement is right now … the movement really is at the city and state level,” he said, despite reports that local action isn’t enough.

The carbon tax method, to charge businesses and their customers for greenhouse gas pollution, recently won a Nobel prize but currently has limited support in Washington, despite multiple proposals from some Democrats and Republicans.

For now, the US policies under discussion do not come close to matching what science requires.

Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University, said she is “not aware of any comprehensive plan that would accomplish what the US needs to do” to meet the commitments it made to other countries in the Paris climate agreement, which is meant to keep warming to 2C but is not on track to succeed.

“I want to see action, and so far there has been precious little of it,” Hayhoe said.

Personally what I envision for 2019 is a bickering Congress very much split with the Democrats retaking the House and Republicans retaining control of the Senate. Of course, Trump will remain President with increased calls for impeachment as more corruption gets uncovered by a House that may spend a lot of political capital on that effort. If you thought that 2018 was contentious and nasty just wait until 2019.

I’d like to see Democrats walk and chew gum at the same time, though, coming up with a comprehensive plan to give the Environmental Protection Agency powers it had during the Obama era to regulate carbon and other pollutants, and to put the U.S. back on the fast track to rejoin and strengthen the Paris accords. Of course, climate change related weather may spur on action in 2019 via the old Al Gore’s frogs effect.

In any case, if you haven’t voted early please do your civic duty on Tuesday. The rest of the planet and your children and grandchildren will thank you for doing so.

Speaking of the young, they know that this is a particularly big election:


Politically, elsewhere on Earth:


As usual, I’ll be adding some weather and climate items from Saturday:

(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity.)


Today’s “ETs” from overseas:

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The Climate Guy

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