Washington Initiative 1631 – The Protect Washington Act

October 2, 2018


Washington Initiative 1631 (I-1631), the Protect Washington Act, aims to transition the Washington economy to a renewable energy future that invests in and supports clean energy, the outdoors, and local communities and economies across the state by implementing a carbon fee on some of the state’s biggest polluters. It would invest directly in healthy forests and waters across the state as a means for carbon sequestration and to build resiliency in outdoor places to impacts of climate change like wildfires, flooding, and drought.

The inclusion of I-1631 on the ballot this November follows a multi-year effort to implement a carbon fee in Washington state, which included a ballot initiative that failed in 2016 and OIA-supported legislation that did not progress this past session. I-1631 is the most united the effort has been in supporting a carbon fee measure and has the backing of a wide range of businesses, business groups, local communities and community groups, NGOs, nonprofits, and others.

Opposition to the initiative is coming predominately from members of the fossil fuel industry in the state who, in addition to their claims that costs would be passed down to consumers, argue against this model, as well as against the concept of a fee on carbon. They are beginning to invest heavily into the opposition campaign.

The way this initiative was drafted addresses many of these concerns, including the creation of a public oversight board that would direct investments as the measure intends and would include someone to specifically represent the outdoor recreation industry. The initiative also includes assistance to lower-income communities and exemptions for some in the fossil fuel industry based on specific criteria.

Addressing climate change is critical to protecting the future of Washington’s $26.2 billion outdoor recreation economy and the clean air and water it relies on. This is why OIA has officially endorsed I-1631 as it invests in the next generation of Washington’s economy that supports renewable energy, outdoor recreation, and local communities and grows the broader economy. We believe this is a step in that direction, bringing diverse communities together in a way that can be a successful example for other states across the country.

Key Information

I-1631 would
• Take effect January 1, 2020
• Generate around $1 billion a year to invest in projects and communities throughout the state
• Implement a $15/ton fee on large polluters that would increase $2/ton each year plus inflation
• Invest 70 percent in energy efficiency, renewable energy, energy storage, clean transportation, and carbon sequestration
• Invest 25 percent in increasing the resiliency of Washington’s waters and forests to the impacts of climate change
• Invest 5 perfect to fund healthy community programs assisting tribal communities and others who are highly impacted by wildfires, sea-level rise, and other natural forces.

Additional Reading & Resources

Land of the Fee? – Grist, 6.6.2018
REI’s View on Washington’s Initiative 1631 – REI, 8.23.2018
Full Initiative Text – WA Secretary of State