An exit poll found that a majority of Washington state voters support carbon emission regulations in the state. Flickr/oatsy40

An exit poll found that a majority of Washington state voters support carbon emission regulations in the state. Flickr/oatsy40

Exit poll indicates Washington voters still support climate change action

State environmental organizations’ poll points to continuing support for carbon-reducing measures.

Exit polling funded by Washington state conservation groups found that a majority of residents support climate initiatives.

The exit polling was supported by the Audubon of Washington and The Nature Conservancy, and representatives held a web press conference Jan. 10 to discuss their findings. In the poll, they interviewed more than 1,200 voters from the Nov. 2018 election on why they voted on carbon fee Initiative 1631 — which was rejected — and their overall support for climate and carbon laws.

On I-1631, the poll found that 34 percent said they voted yes, and another 31 percent said they supported some sort of legislation, but that I-1631 was too flawed and that a better initiative is preferred. Combined, these voters outweighed the 25 percent who said the state doesn’t need to take action and who opposed I-1631. Moderate Republicans under age 55, union members, and non-college educated women were more highly represented in the 31 percent who said they support climate legislation, but not I-1631.

Overall, around 80 percent of Washington state voters think climate change is happening in some way, and 64 percent of voters either strongly or somewhat support the state taking action on climate change. The strongest support for climate change policy comes from voters under age 40 and voters of color, according to the poll.

I-1631 would have created a a $15 per metric ton fee on carbon emissions beginning in 2020, which would have risen by $2 each year until the state met its goal of reducing carbon emissions below 1990 levels. The initiative would have taken the money from the fee and reinvested it into clean energy projects, providing pensions and economic support for displaced energy workers and investing in communities that will be hit hardest by climate change. The initiative was rejected by more than 56 percent of voters.

The initiative was proposed after the failure of I-732 in 2016, which would have taken the revenue and returned it directly to state residents.

David Metz, president of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and Associates, said during the Jan. 10 presentation that past polling suggests voters would more likely support investments instead of dividends.

“What we found pretty consistently is voters are much more enthusiastic about investing revenue,” he said.

Researchers from the University of Washington told Seattle Weekly in previous reporting there are two ways in which revenues can be used to benefit residents: through dividends or investments in infrastructure, and offsetting the effects of transitioning away from fossil fuel. While investments in infrastructure may benefit people in the long run, if increased costs aren’t offset in the short term, people may be less likely to support carbon pricing.

Following I-1631’s defeat on the November ballot, Gov. Jay Inslee and the Democratic-controlled Legislature will be pushing for other clean energy measures in the 2019 session. Inslee announced a proposal in December to reduce the state’s use of fossil fuels by 2035. Included in this is a push to use entirely clean and renewable energy in the energy grid, building cleaner buildings, and promoting the use of electric vehicles.

If the proposal to create a completely green power grid passes, Washington state would join California and Hawaii in de-carbonizing its energy sector, Metz said. By making investments in wind and solar energy, Washington and Oregon could fully de-carbonize their power grids by mid-century. Of the voters polled, 65 percent said they would strongly or somewhat support a green energy grid, and 71 percent of people who felt that I-1631 was too flawed said they were behind a 100 percent green energy proposal.

The poll found that households making the least amount of money — those bringing in under $50,000 annually — had a 76 percent support rate for a clean energy grid. Some 56 percent of those polled said they would prefer to pay a little more to ensure their electricity is coming from clean and renewable sources, compared with 34 who would prefer to pay the same rates even if the power is from dirty sources.

More in News

Three candidates aim to fill an open seat on the Issaquah School Board

Suzanne Weaver, Joe Robinson and Layna Crofts compete for the Issaquah School District Director District 5 position.

King County Correctional Facility is located at 500 5th Ave., Seattle. File photo
King County jail’s leaky pipes have national implications

Lawsuit filed in King County Superior Court alleges Aquatherm has been selling faulty pipes.

VoteWA is a $9.5 million program that came online last May and is meant to unify all 39 county voting systems in the state into a single entity. Courtesy image
WA’s new voting system concerns county elections officials

VoteWA has run into some problems in recent months as the Aug. 6 primary election draws closer.

At the Issaquah clinic, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance patients can receive chemotherapy infusions, nutrition consultations, hematology and other services.
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance welcomed into Issaquah with ribbon cutting

After expansion into Poulsbo, National Cancer Institute-designated care center gets underway in Issaquah

Providence Point residents speak out in support for intersection improvements

Issaquah residents supported a traffic light on SE 43rd Street at a CIP public hearing on July 1.

Photo courtesy of Carolyn Kennedy
                                Tools4Schools will be having its annual school supplies drive Aug. 12.
ISF and Issaquah Food Clothing Bank partner again for Tools4Schools drive

Tools4School provided more than 900 backpacks to students during the 2018-19 school year.

Photo courtesy of Life Enrichment Options
                                The annual Challenge Race returns to Issaquah for the 22nd year on July 27 at the Issaquah Community Center.
Challenge Race returns to Issaquah

The annual event will take place at the Issaquah Community Center on July 27.

Pete, with his companion Nina, served as “the foundation” of the zoo’s gorilla program when he first arrived in Seattle in 1969. Photo courtesy of Dennis Dow / Woodland Park Zoo
Prop 1 would fund parks, zoos and open spaces

King County voters could approve the renewal and increase of the levy on the August ballot.

Issaquah begins long-term planning for the future of parks

Long-term master plans for three major Issaquah open space areas are in the works.

Most Read