There are few things we value more as Washingtonians than the natural beauty of our state. All of us have a responsibility to safeguard these gifts for future generations. That’s why reducing carbon emissions has been a priority for government, employers and everyday citizens long before Jay Inslee was elected governor.
Washington employers, in partnership with their employees, have reduced carbon emissions through efficiency and new technology.
Commuters have chosen transit, carpools and low-emission vehicles. Because of our hydropower, our electricity generation emits nearly the lowest amount of carbon in the country.
All of these initiatives have given Washington the eighth-cleanest state economy in the country, when measured by carbon emissions.
According to the EPA, Washington’s carbon emissions are now below 1990 levels. Our industrial sector alone has reduced its carbon emissions by 21 percent.
We’ve seen this happen up close. In October 2008, food processors around the region agreed to voluntarily reduce energy intensity in their products by 25 percent over 10 years. They are well on their way.
The leadership shown by every industry sector has been inspiring – from new buildings with LEED certifications to commercial vehicles converting to low-carbon fuels.
Those who say Washington businesses have an opportunity to lead in reducing carbon emissions have not been paying attention. They’re already leading.
The alternative solution that Gov. Inslee and others promoted during the legislative session relied on a cap-and-trade tax proposal that failed to get support in the Legislature.
Why? Because it would raise the cost of energy for everybody and drive jobs out of the state. The governor’s own economists confirmed that his plan would increase the price of a gallon of gas by as much as 41 cents above projections over time and labeled it “regressive” because of its disproportionate impact on fixed-income households.
An independent analysis of the plan concluded that, if it were implemented, Washington would have an average of 56,000 fewer jobs each year than under current projections.
How do we advance our shared goal of reducing global carbon emissions by driving employers from low-carbon Washington into high-carbon jurisdictions like China or Texas?
We support the governor’s goal of reducing carbon emissions, but we differ on the solution. Thanks to the leadership of Washington families, employers, farmers and government, we’re making great progress through collaborative policies that invite each of us to act on our environmental values.
Replacing this success with a blunt, government-run system designed to increase the price of gas and energy does not encourage leadership; it simply demands submission.
Vicky Baxter is the CEO of the Renton Chamber of Commerce. Andrea Keikkala is the CEO of the Kent Chamber of Commerce.
This post originally appeared in the Puget Sound Business Journal on Sept. 25. Read the original, here.