Environment & Energy

Inside Inslee’s carbon tax: A gift for king coal

 OLYMPIA — For years, protecting the climate has been Gov. Jay Inslee’s signature issue. And his 2017 legislative agenda is keyed heavily to passing a tax on the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.

But one surprising new analysis suggests that adopting the tax as Inslee has proposed would at first actually increase the state’s production of greenhouse gases and favor the dirtiest fossil fuel: coal.

Unlike the carbon tax rejected by voters on the November ballot, Inslee’s tax carries a little-noticed exemption for the state’s only coal-burning power plant, which is located near Centralia and is owned by the Canadian energy giant TransAlta. That exemption could give coal a price advantage over cleaner-burning natural gas.