Civil War on the Left, Part 30

Today we get another two-fer: a fresh installment of the Civil War on the Left series, and a Green Weenie Award. Up in Washington state, there’s a revenue-neutral carbon tax initiative on the ballot, which would impose a $15 a ton carbon tax (or about 15 cents per gallon of gas), rising eventually over the years to $100 a ton, or $1 added to the cost of a gallon of gas. To offset this, the initiative proposes to reduce the state’s sales tax and business taxes—just as proponents of a revenue neutral carbon tax, including Al Gore, have long advocated.

So guess who’s against the initiative? Why, environmentalists of course! Why? Because the proposal doesn’t result in a net tax increase or spend new funds for “environmental justice.” This scene has David Roberts, a “climate hawk” (as he describes himself), in a funk:

The measure, called Initiative 732, isn’t just any carbon tax, either. It’s a big one. It would be the first carbon tax in the US, the biggest in North America, and one of the most ambitious in the world.

And yet the left opposes it. The Democratic Party, community-of-color groups, organized labor, big liberal donors, and even most big environmental groups have come out against it.

Why on Earth would the left oppose the first and biggest carbon tax in the country? How has the climate community in Washington ended up in what one participant calls a “train wreck”? (Others have described it in more, er, colorful terms.)

Roberts goes on to tell the inside baseball of the fractious politics of the left in Washington state, and somehow manages to come to the conclusion that this civil war is all the fault of Republicans. Seems to me the real lessons are twofold. First, the greens always lie, and now that their bluff about a revenue-neutral carbon tax is being called, their true belief in always higher taxes and spending won out. Second, for the left the perfect is always the enemy of the good.  I hope they stick with this purism. And enjoy this collective Green Weenie Award given to the whole Washington state environmental establishment.


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