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Washington state carbon tax poised to fail after Big Oil campaign


By Nichola Groom

(Reuters) - Washington state was heading towards rejecting a ballot initiative to create the first carbon tax in the United States, a tally of about 80 percent of votes showed early on Wednesday, after an industry campaign argued it would hurt the economy.

The Carbon Emissions Fee and Revenue Allocation Initiative, known as Initiative 1631, would have imposed a $15 fee on each metric ton of carbon emissions, rising $2 a year until the state's 2035 emissions target is met.

With more than two million votes counted by early Wednesday, the "no" votes were leading with 56.3 percent.

and other reported that the measure had failed, although a for the "Yes on 1631" campaign said it was not ready to concede given some 540,000 ballots remained to be counted.

The carbon fee aimed to generate $2.3 billion over five years for and air programs, according to a state analysis. The industry was expected to feel most pain because transport contributes 43 percent of in Washington state, a 2016 state report said.

The raised $31.2 million from companies and business groups to oppose the measure, the most spent in the state to defeat a ballot initiative, according to

That fueled months of television and digital ads, along with flyers and mailers in the state that argued the fee would drive up for consumers, small businesses and farms.

Top donors to the "No on 1631" campaign included BP America, and unit All three own refineries in the state.

Big Oil raised double the $15.2 million spent on supporting the initiative by an alliance of green groups and billionaire activists including and

The big-ticket battle reflected the stakes of climate regulation. The worries new curbs on carbon emissions will hobble business, while environmentalists worry that a failure to act soon to halt global warming will have devastating consequences for the planet.

Washington is the nation's fifth biggest fuel-producing state with five refineries. Those facilities last year produced about 5.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, according to the Environmental Protection agency, an amount that would yield the state over $83 million in revenue from the tax.

(Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by and Edmund Blair)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, November 07 2018. 17:04 IST