Last summer, analyst Dave Kershner and I published a report documenting the way one of Washington’s few existing pollution taxes was undermined by its own poor design: it gives bulk discounts for polluters.
Well, state representative Zack Hudgins won $80,000 in the state budget to help craft a smarter hazardous waste policy. The money will fund a “stakeholder advisory committee” to advise the state on how to align its hazardous waste fee with its pollution prevention goals.
It’s a welcome step forward on an issue that’s had too-little attention. And the committee’s job isn’t hard: it can promote the simple, common-sense steps Dave and I recommended in the report. In particular, Washington should eliminate the limit on how much any single facility can pay in hazardous waste planning fees.
3/13 update by Eric: Over at the Seattle P-I’s environmental blog, reporter Lisa Stiffler has nice coverage of the issue, plus a link to her original article — the one that broke the story.
Another kind of bulk discounts for polluters exists in Washington. We’ve noticed when taking our sailboat into marinas during the summer that boats that buy over a certain amount of fuel (typically 100 gallons) are entitled to a lower price per gallon at some marinas. That’s a “carbon subsidy”. Why not a carbon tax instead?
Bob,Wow. I’ve never heard of bulk discounts for fuel. Of course, the case we wrote about is a matter of state law, while the marinas are private businesses. A carbon tax would be good, though in Washington state a cap and trade system is politically more likely.
Alan,Some of the marinas are run by local port authorities (such as the Port of Port Townsend). The fuel dock may be run as a concession, but the elected port commissioners should be responsible for the business practices of their concessionaires in my opinion. The ports are collectively represented by the Washington Public Ports Association (http://www.washingtonports.org/). Some ports don’t offer a fuel discount, some do. Offering a discount for quantity purchases is a traditional buyer incentive, but one that doesn’t make sense any more in the case of carbon-based fuels.