Residents throughout Walla Walla County have voiced concern over House Bill 1091. This measure, stuck in the Senate Ways and Means Committee for the last three weeks, “would create a carbon intensity ‘standard’ for fuel suppliers, and with penalties against those failing to meet it,” according to U-B reporter Hector del Castillo.

On the surface, this bill means well— minimizing our collective carbon footprint is a good aim, and as Inslee puts it, “climate change is not some nebulous concept here.” But one has to wonder if lawmakers have actually looked into the effects of the bill beyond the corporations they are trying to regulate.

Though this low carbon fuel standard plan for Washington state has good intentions, its price tag at the pump is too much for state residents, particularly for farmers and long-haul truckers.

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.

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 after we have moved past the COVID-19 crisis.

“I think there would be a significantly negative impact on local businesses and residents,” Port of Walla Walla Executive Director Pat Reay told Del Castillo, referencing HB 1091. “Any sort of business where transportation is a component of their operations would be seriously hurt by this. And the same for consumers as well.”

Reay notes another thing to consider: Washington state isn’t an island.

Washington competes with other states for businesses. We must remain competitive.

Beyond this, many Washingtonians are still hurting financially because of the COVID-19 shutdowns. Though we are now in Phase 3, there are still those whose jobs have been lost and hours have been cut. A boost in fuel costs will only add to their burden.

While we agree the goals of this bill are all important, local taxpayers and businesses simply can’t afford to do it all — particularly in the midst of an economic slowdown created by a pandemic.

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