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Washington state rejects $15/mt carbon fee

Washington — Washington state voters rejected a carbon fee that would have raised costs for oil refineries, natural gas-fired power plants and other large users of fossil fuels.

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The fee, which was opposed by about 56% of voters Tuesday, according to unofficial results, would have been the first of its kind in the US and, if passed, was expected to spur similar efforts to curb emissions in other states.

A similar carbon tax proposed in 2016 was rejected by 59% of voters.

The fee was estimated to generate an estimated $2.3 billion in revenue in the first five years. The carbon fee would have started at $15/mt in 2020 and increased by $2/mt annually until the state met its existing greenhouse gas reduction goal for 2035 and was on track to meet its 2050 goal.

Washington state is home to 3.4% of US oil refining capacity: BP West Coast Products' 227,000 b/d Ferndale plant, Shell Oil Products' 145,000 b/d Anacortes plant, Phillips 66's 105,000 b/d Ferndale plant, Andeavor's 120,000 b/d Anacortes plant, and US Oil & Refining's 40,700 b/d Tacoma plant.

The fee would not have applied to the state's sole coal-fired power plant, which is already required to close by 2025. -- Meghan Gordon, meghan.gordon@spglobal.com

-- Brian Scheid, brian.scheid@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Elizabeth Thang, newsdesk@spglobal.com