Responding to Maas's "Vote No on 1631"

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Backed BY a Coalition of Historic Proportions

Even as the number of endorsements grows for I-1631, including heavy weights Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg, and cities across the state like Seattle, Tacoma, Mercer Island and little Langley on Whidbey Island, the anti-campaign heats up driven by millions of dollars from oil companies in Texas. Up to now, spending more than 21 million dollars.  One of the lead stories in this campaign concerns weather celebrity and University of Washington professor Cliff Maas, co-author of the "No on 1631" response in the voters pamphlet. Here we respond to Maas's assertions.

“If you care about the environment, if you worry about global warming, and if this summer's smoke is of concern, you should vote against Washington State Initiative 1631.” Cliff Maas Blog 10/14/18

Cliff is a great meteorologist, but, has always had disturbing attitudes about climate change often downplaying impacts kind of like along Bjorn Lundstrom does. He has few friends in the climate fight as a result. No one claims 1631 is perfect. Who would you get to vote for that? 

“The only way we can have a significant impact on global warming is by passing measures that have a real chance of being adopted across the U.S. I-732, the 2016 carbon tax initiative, was such a measure; one that was revenue neutral (returned all the carbon tax to Washington citizens) and had bipartisan support. Major national Republican leaders are now supporting a revenue neutral carbon tax, and a well-designed version in our state could be an example for the nation.”- Cliff Maas

Cliff is still angry about I-732 :“the one right way”- Maas was a strong supporter of I-732, modeled after the CCL approach but it went down by 60% primarily because it wasn't equitable and, like cap and trade, poorly understood and therefore not trusted. We know because we worked on it. It lacked what 1631 has in spades, a broad coalition. Magical thing- If he thinks we're going to get a carbon tax or anything done at the national level he should have been on the Citizens Climate Lobby call last Saturday.  It should be clear by now that the federal government is captured and dysfunctional.  Hence the lawsuit Julianav the United States coming to trial later this month. https://www.ourchildrenstrust.org/us/federal-lawsuit/ 

“I-1631 is a flawed, ineffective, and highly partisan initiative that does little to deal with increasing greenhouse gases. An initiative that will line the pockets of special interest groups, do economic damage to our poorest citizens, and stand in the way of far more effective approaches.” -Cliff Maas

I find these criticisms both mean spirited and disingenuous. How can it be ineffective when it hasn’t been tested? I agree the goal is way too small. The IPCC report just confirms that 25% by 2035 is too low, but imagine the blow back if we did what was actually required? 1631 opens a door without breaking it down and is adjustable based on whether we're reaching goals. These “special interest groups” are the businesses who would benefit us with renewable and alternative energy, mass transportation and energy conservation. Sounds like some pretty devious folks indeed.

“And its proponents have been less than honest about the nature of this ballot measure.”-Cliff Maas

Oh?  and he bases this on a tweet. Meanwhile the oil industry’s propaganda machine calls 1631 a “tax” (its title is the "Carbon Emissions Reduction Fee") and says many of the largest polluters are exempted citing a coal plant already scheduled to shut down (Centralia), Energy Intensive/Trade Dependent business employing thousands of living wage jobs, which define our state, like Boeing, paper mills and an aluminum smelter in Spoke. Would he choose to force those abroad? They use cumulated numbers to scare people “It would cost the average household $440 dollars in 2020 and rising to $990 in 2035.” That may be true if the industry who paints themselves as altruistic passes on the meager fee imposed. Ask the folks in Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas, the Southeast is $440 against loosing your home, job, family to the consequences of climate/ocean chaos is to big a price to pay? (I know folks who pay that much for lattes.).  We wouldn’t be here making these tough decisions if some people hadn’t fought so hard to protect their profit and power. 1631 is designed to phase in a just transition. It’s a scalpel not a sledgehammer. Here’s some honesty for you Cliff:

"We need to reduce fossil fuel use now to keep air pollution and an unstable climate from becoming increasingly worse for our children and grandchildren.” Gary S. Kaplan, MD, Chairman and CEO, Virginia Mason Health System.

“A minimum of ten percent of the money goes to Indian tribes, who are exempted from paying any carbon fee by the initiative. Labor advocates got a fifty million dollar fund, replenished annually, for worker support programs. And to provide funding to the social action groups pushing the initiative, 35% of the money goes to "pollution and health action areas" of minority and "vulnerable populations." - Cliff Maas

Unfair to “our poorest citizens”? Representatives from these groups helped shape 1631 and strongly endorse it. He says this then goes on to trash the tribes objectively the most disadvantaged group most targeted for racism in Washington State. Consider this joint comment from a Seattle Times op-ed,

“ We face two roads here in Washington: moving forward together toward a healthier, cleaner state, or staying gridlocked with business as usual, allowing the big polluters to line their pockets at the expense of our kids’ future. We think Washington’s ready for a different path. ”Jeff Johnson, president of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO; Aiko Schaefer director of Front and Centered, a statewide coalition of more than 60 organizations and groups rooted in communities of color and people with lower incomes. Ken Lans a retired general practice physician and president of Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility

1631 is all about a just transition w/o breaking Washington's economy.

“I-1631, is a highly partisan effort that will not serve as an example to the nation.- Cliff Maas

His is correct, this is a partisan issue, just look at the polls. Yale has does a periodic assessment of climate chaos attitudes related to a multiplicity of factors. The fact that 77% of Dems favor 1631 while just 18% of Republicans do reflects what they have consistently found. This was an issue made partisan by the Republican leadership beholding to fossil fuel money (Koch Bros, Exxon, Phillips, etc) to power their political ambitions. And what has been the mantra of the Republican party since Newt? No matter what, “No new taxes!” . From our work knocking on doors, we often here "No Taxes!" and "no government bureaucracy" as a knee jerk response. The Republicans own that.  Last week Bill Gates has endorsed 1631 saying, 

"It’s important to remember what is at stake. Climate change may be the toughest problem humanity has ever faced. To avoid the worst scenarios, we need to reduce global net greenhouse gas emissions to essentially zero in the next 50 years. Changing how we power our homes and cars won’t be enough. We also need to get to zero in every other major source of greenhouse gases, including manufacturing, transportation, and agriculture."  https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-im-washington-states-carbon-fee-bill-gates/

“There is No Concrete Spending Plan for Billions of Dollars”- Cliff Maas

Yes 1631 is plan without rigid borders. Those will be decided as the proposals roll in. 1631 is an incubator ready to seed the most effective strategies. Maas offers his pet solutions, and some have merit, but how to pay for them? 1631 has a built in flexibility which allows decision makers to determine leverage points balancing all the factors to advance us as rapidly as possible towards our goals. No one’s pet project can slide through without a thorough vetting.

“Research on the local implications of climate change and their impacts have been undermined by a lack of State support.” Cliff Maas

Research dollars cut? By “State” he must be referring to the Trump administration who shut down climate research, fired scientists who before they left backed up all their research so that it would not be destroyed by this malevolent anti-reality based mob. I see the value of research but how much more research do we need to act? I refer you to KD Moore's "If you're house was on fire" video.

“I-1631 hands the responsibility of distributing the cash to a 15-member oversight board including five WA state department heads and 10 appointed (by the Governor) individuals.”- Cliff Maas

Is this a libertarian “bureaucrats bad” side of Maas?-Those who have problems with the appointed oversight board and three advisory boards don't know how politics works in the USA. Plato warned us that in a democracy money buys votes. That has led to a dysfunctional system especially at the federal level. Does he really think the plutocracy in Washington is going to allow this to happen let alone in a in a timely manner? Do you think so? This is an issue beyond partisanship. The laws of nature don’t care about ideology. Fortunately, we have a Governor who is grounded in reality and even written a book about AGW. Just think who we'd have on an elected board and how little would get done?

Tax v Fee argument-Well lets see how WA state law defines fee: "[Fees] are imposed on specific persons, activities, or properties that receive a service or benefit, or that cause negative externalities (public bads) that burden the rest of the population…come with a distinct set of legal protections to ensure that the level of each charge does not exceed the cost of the service, benefit, or mitigation of the public bad and not used for general governmental purposes." No one claims the oil companies won't pass the costs on. Of course they could absorb them but won't. Why?... perhaps Cliff has at last hit on it…

“Are Oil Companies Evil?”- Cliff Maas

They are all about the corporate bottom line which does bring up the question of evil. Can a process based on objectification, exploitation, domination and destruction be evil? What about those who willingly participate and guide that mission? Leaked Exxon documents have demonstrated that even while they were denying it, they were studying it and preparing for rising seas and increasing storms. Read, Merchants of Doubt (also a film), Climate Cover UPand Horsemen of the Apocalypsefor more. I quote Utah Phillips, “The world isn’t dying, its being murdered and we have the names and addresses.”

Can we agree that doing nothing is not an option? Haven’t we been doing that? As Theodore Roosevelt summed it up, in a crisis, "The best thing is to do the right thing. The next best thing is to do is the wrong thing. The worst thing to do is nothing." - Teddy Roosevelt and Virgil said, “Fortune favors the bold.” This is no time to be meek. It is all on the line. There is no time for No.

“Either you are for burning fossil fuels and ending the world or you’re against it.” Ken Ward, Valve Turner

Gary Piazzon






Piazzon, G. (2018). Responding to Maas's "Vote No on 1631". Retrieved from http://www.nwuujn.org/view/article/5bcb2fac0cf2c8c2cdf960e0


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