Gov. Christine Gregoire

Taxing pollutants to pay for water pollution cleanup -- too simple to pass Washington Legislature?

It's a little tough to tell, but it sounds like the idea of raising taxes on petroleum products and other toxic materials to pay for cleaning up stormwater runoff could have trouble getting through the recession-battered Washington Legislature this year. Taxing pollutants to pay for pollution cleanup may be too simple an idea, I suppose.

Today enviros are calling for green-minded citizens to e-mail their representatives in Olympia in support of what they’re calling the Clean Water Act of 2008 (HB 3181/SB 6851). It would raise taxes on petroleum and other toxic products that represent the biggest single environmental threat to Puget Sound (not to mention putting a whole bunch of other Washington waterways into violation of the federal Clean Water Act. The Clean Water Act passed in 1972. The one that was supposed to control water pollution by 1985.

Right now the Leg is barreling toward a supposed conclusion – but with nothing even close to agreement on how to balance the budget. The Senate raised its hand for an increase in the sales tax. But Gov. Christine Gregoire and House leaders appear to not like that idea, although they’re careful politicians all and haven’t ruled it out, either.

Now, I’ve been writing about the need to clean up stormwater – in particular to rescue Puget Sound, but also as a nationwide program – for going on a decade now. Never before has the Legislature gotten this close to putting into effect such a large, ongoing and broadly based revenue source for stormwater cleanup.

Rita Hibbard's picture

Oregon voters say yes to tax increases to save schools and public services

rita_hibbardwebIn a vote closely watched by other states with budget woes, Oregon voters chose to impose corporate tax hikes and an  income tax increase on the wealthiest of taxpayers to prevent mammoth cuts to public education and other state services. It had been eight years since Oregon voters last approved a statewide tax increase, and it was greeted with relief by education and public service advocates, The Oregonian reported.

The double-barreled victory is the first voter-approved statewide income tax increase since the 1930s. Other states, facing similar budget woes, are watching the outcome closely because Oregon, after all, is a state that capped property taxes and locked a surplus tax rebate program into the constitution.

The last time voters approved a tax increase was 2002, when they agreed to bump up tobacco taxes to help pay for the Oregon Health Plan. Voters rejected income tax increases twice in recent years.

Not only did the tax measures pass Tuesday, but they passed easily -- by 54 percent. Multnomah County -- home to Portland -- went heavily for the measures, but support was also strong in more conservative parts of the state.

Campaign ads by supporters highlighted banks and credit card companies and showed images of well-dressed people stepping off private jets.

Gregoire says budget cuts won't stop progress on environment

By Alexander Kelly and Blair Kelly

COPENHAGEN -- Even while dealing with international climate change negotiations here, Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire is thinking about the recession back home. She admits it will hold back environmental progress but says she intends to move foward as best Washington can:

Gregoire at Copenhagen climate talks: Green energy the way to rescue economy

By Alexander Kelly and Blair Kelly

COPENHAGEN -- In this second of three segments in her interview with InvestigateWest, Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire argues that the way to revive the economy is through green jobs needed to fight climate change:

Gregoire, at Copenhagen climate talks, negotiates to bring green-energy companies to Pacific Northwest

By Alexander Kelly and Blair Kelly

COPENHAGEN -- Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire says she is negotating at the United Nations talks on climate change here with two foreign firms considering launching green-energy ventures in Washington:

This is as much a trade mission for me, an economic development, as it is to represent Washington state and the United States to the rest of the world to show that we are accepting our role and we are leading.

More in this, the first of three segments of InvestigateWest's interview with Gregoire:

Gregoire extols jobs benefits of green energy

Joel Connelly of has a lengthy and detailed post on Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire's testimony at the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, with Gregoire in her traditional form as she extols the jobs benefits of green energy. Her prepared remarks for the testimomy today have Washington as the fifth largest state for wind power.