Once again Gov. Jay Inslee is pitching a low carbon fuel standard plan for Washington state. And, yet again, it’s price tag at the pump is too much for state residents, particularly for farmers and long-haul truckers.
This proposal, House Bill 1091 has strong support from Democrats who control the House. It calls for a 10% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2028 and 20% reduction by 2035 starting by 2023.
The idea of lower carbon emissions to improve the environment is, of course, sound. But Washington state isn’t an island.
Washington competes with other states for businesses. We must remain competitive.
In addition, many Washingtonians are hurting financially because of the COVID-19 shutdowns. Jobs have been lost and hours have been cut.
A boost in fuel costs will add more to their burden.
This year’s effort does specifically address the concerns of some groups. It says fuels that would be exempt through 2027 include special fuel used in off-road vehicles primarily used to transport logs; some vehicles for construction work, including but not limited to, mining and timber harvest operations; and dyed special fuel used for agricultural purposes that are exempt from state fuel taxation.
That, however, isn’t where farmers and others are spending the bulk of their cash on fuel.
This is why agricultural interests are lobbying against the legislation in Olympia.
This plan would likely cause shock at the gasoline pumps for those who drive cars. A study conducted for the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency found that low carbon fuel standards could add up to 57 cents to a gallon of gas and up to 63 cents to a gallon diesel by 2030.
Keep in mind that Washington state currently has one of the highest gas taxes in America.
If a gas tax hike is warranted, we would prefer it be targeted for upgrading roads and infrastructure. But, again, after we have moved past the COVID-19 crisis.
This is simply not a good time to take on an ambitious low carbon fuel standard plan. The economic cost is too high when so many are already struggling.