The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency conducted a neutral factual analysis of initiative measure number 1631 (I-1631) which is on the ballot for November 2018. 

I-1631 is a proposal to enact a carbon emission fee in Washington State, starting at $15 per ton carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) in 2020 and ramping up $2 per year to reach $45 per ton CO2e in 2035. 

By reducing activities that produce carbon emissions, the initiative is expected to also reduce air pollution and improve public health. In addition, the initiative has a provision to fund programs that could yield air quality benefits. The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency conservatively estimated how much air pollution I-1631 is likely to reduce.

The initiative would reduce fine particles and nitrogen dioxide, among other pollutants, mostly near busy roadways. Fine particles cause health problems such as breathing troubles, heart and lung disease, stroke, and premature death. Nitrogen dioxide is a reactive gas that can irritate the lungs and lower resistance to respiratory infections. Children, older adults, and people with preexisting health conditions are more at risk. Studies show that reducing fine particle pollution improves public health. For this reason, the Agency prioritizes reducing fine particle pollution in our region. 

I-1631’s Estimated Impact

From 2020 to 2035, we estimate roughly a 3% reduction in air pollution from cars and trucks resulting from the direct fee (averaged over the entire time period, and ending with an annual reduction of 6-7% in 2035). This is equivalent to removing about 200,000 cars or 30,000 trucks from the Puget Sound region’s roads. 

I-1631: Potential Air Quality Impact in the Puget Sound region