One of the environmental community's top priorities heading into Olympia this year was getting back to work on (and passing) a proposal that failed last session—a barrel fee on petroleum to fund storm water clean up.

Usually, advocates for a fee on petroleum are adamant that it's a fee, not a tax. Not so this year.

Given that majority party Democrats are looking for new revenue to deal with a $2.6 billion budget shortfall, advocates for the measure, like the Washington Environmental Council, have reworked the idea as a tax that could raise money for the general fund rather than being immediately earmarked to clean up polluted storm water.

The measure would dedicate 60 percent of the money ($150 million a year) to the general fund for the first few years, but environmentalists say the tax—a hazardous materials tax—must eventually transition back to exclusively funding storm water clean up.

Spokane area Rep. Timm Ormsby (D-3) will be the official sponsor.


Rep. Timm Ormsby (D-3)


Jim Brunner at the Seattle Times has more on the story.
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