In 2016, voters in Washington state will get the chance to enact the first state carbon tax. To provide a good example for the other 49, they should adopt the smartest policy with the broadest appeal: a revenue-neutral tax.

Carbon Washington, which has gathered some 350,000 signatures to put a $25-per-ton carbon tax to a vote, has long favored the revenue-neutral strategy. Its measure would return the money generated by cutting income and corporate taxes. Unfortunately, many left-leaning carbon-tax backers in Washington feel that the revenue should be invested in clean energy, education and other social programs.

Their strategy undercuts a powerful argument in favor of a carbon tax: Climate change is everyone’s problem, so the effort to lower greenhouse-gas emissions should be undertaken in the least partisan manner possible. Putting a price on carbon can encourage energy efficiency and the use of cleaner fuels, and it can be done without getting sucked into the eternal debate over the proper size and scope of government.

A revenue-neutral carbon tax would sidestep that controversy and focus on its essential goal: cutting emissions.

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