If Democrats ever want to fight climate change at the national level, they’ll need help from state-level progressives first. Blue states will need to function as “laboratories of democracy,” trying out creative new climate policies and finding their faults before their debut on the national stage.
On Tuesday, Democrats didn’t get that help.
Though progressives cruised to victory in Washington State—Senator Maria Cantwell, a Democrat, easily won reelection—by late Tuesday night, voters appeared almost certain to reject Initiative 1631, a ballot question that would have established the nation’s first carbon tax. With 64 percent of the vote counted, 56 percent of voters opposed the measure—enough of a rout that The Seattle Times declared it defeated. The Associated Press has yet to call the race.
Initiative 1631 took a so-called Green New Deal approach—it would have used revenue raised by a new carbon fee to fund conservation projects, renewable-energy farms, and struggling communities throughout the state. The measure faced unprecedented headwinds: The “No on 1631” organization was the wealthiest ballot-question campaign in state history. Almost all of its $31 million budget came from a handful of oil companies, including BP, Chevron, and Koch Industries.