Talking Carbon Taxes, Free-Enterprise Style

Finding common ground with talking points from the conservative play book.
Photo Credit: Orin Zebest via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Orin Zebest via Compfight cc

What’s the best way to make a case for a carbon pollution tax to conservative audiences? Why not speak their language?

Just listen to the outspoken conservatives who favor a tax on carbon pollution. Again and again they talk up carbon pricing with the familiar language of the market, calling for a level playing field and accountability for the true costs of energy, and touting the enormous opportunity in homegrown, free-enterprise energy solutions.

These conservatives also like the idea of swapping taxes from from stuff we like—jobs, income, hard work—to something everyone can agree is bad news: carbon pollution. In fact, pro-carbon tax conservatives talk about a carbon tax swap as a “golden opportunity,” an “old-fashioned, straightforward” solution, a “win-win” and a “no-brainer.” And they see a tax on carbon pollution as a good way to bolster our national security, strengthen our economy, and create “jobs, jobs, jobs.”

All that said, a carbon tax is still not a slam dunk with all conservative audiences.

But, come on! When the “father of supply side economics,” Art Laffer, says a carbon tax would mean we “can at once clean the air, create jobs, and improve the national security of the United States—a triple play for the next American century,” and George Will (grudgingly) agrees with Al Gore that we should “tax what we burn, not what we earn,” it’s a sure sign of promising common ground. Read more »


Washington State Traffic Forecast Finally Recognizes Reality

Does Washington's new road forecast spell the end of "build now, pay later"?

This is the single most responsible official traffic forecast I’ve seen from any government agency, ever:

It’s from a new transportation revenue forecast (pdf link, see p. 27) recently published by the Washington State Office of Financial Management. Their previous forecast, in pink, assumed that traffic would grow endlessly, much as it did during the 1950s through 1990s. But the new forecast, in blue, assumes that the modest traffic growth of the past decade will continue, and will then be followed by a modest decline.

There are two reasons why this forecast is the most responsible one I’ve seen to date. First, it reflects the growing evidence that three’s been a long-term slowdown in the growth vehicle travel—a slowdown that has been evident on major roads in Washington, for Washington State roads as a whole, for the US, and for much of the industrialized world. Second, even if the forecast is wrong, a conservative revenue forecast far and away the most fiscally prudent way to plan a transportation budget. Read more »


Birth Control? There’s an App for That

Planned Parenthood pioneers a new program to improve contraceptive access.

Given that 82 percent of teen pregnancies are unintended, it should come as no surprise that sexual health advocates are eager to make information and services even easier to access and more appealing to emerging adults. Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, which serves Western Washington, Alaska, and Southern Idaho, recently rolled out a telemedicine pilot project that may help to do just that.

The new plan offers virtual office visits via video conference with a trained reproductive health professional.  …  read more »

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Weekend Reading 10/17/14

Portland's awesome Street Books program, best bots, and more.
Original illustration by Nina Montenegro of

Editor’s Note: Recently, we invited board members to contribute to weekend reading when they like. Chris Troth took us up on the offer this week! And our fall communications intern, Keiko Budech, also added a couple pieces to this weeks picks—enjoy!


This article, which filled my heart with happy, is about librarians on cargo bikes in Portland who deliver customized reading piles to people who live outdoors. “Street Books has no return policy at all, except a  …  read more »

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