Washington state doesn’t need — nor do its residents want — the highest gasoline tax in America.

 This should have been abundantly clear in the wake of the November election when Initiative 1631, which included a carbon fee that would have resulted in higher gas prices, was approved in just three of the states 39 counties and garnered less than 44 percent of the vote statewide.

Yet, state lawmakers are once again considering a proposal to tax carbon pollution that is projected to increase the state gasoline tax by 15 cents a gallon. If this legislation is approved it would boost the state gas tax, currently third in the nation at 49.4 cents a gallon, to the highest in the U.S., topping Pennsylvania’s 58.7 cents a gallon.

Beyond that, which frankly is tough to get beyond, the rest of this carbon legislation is a rehash of failed efforts in the past to make Washington state the guinea pig for the social experiment.

To be clear, we do not oppose efforts to combat climate change, which clearly is a real and serious threat to Washington state, the United States and the world. But any legislative effort to reduce the carbon emissions that contribute to climate change should be done on a national scale at the federal level. A state-by-state approach won’t achieve much except to create an economic burden on Washingtonians.

Still, individuals can — and should — make choices to help reduce carbon emissions.

While this latest proposal, which is sponsored by Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, might be different from I-1631, it follows the basic theme.

According to the Spokesman-Review, Hobbs’ proposal is a package of bills including taxing authority, bonds and long lists of projects that sets the tax at $15 per ton of carbon pollution produced by a fuel, which translates to 15 cents per gallon of gasoline at the pump. The proposed increase in taxes and fees could provide about $17 billion over the next 10 years for roads, bridges and transportation and environmental projects, the newspaper reported.

These infrastructure and other projects should be addressed, but hinging the projects on taxes and fees that will put Washington at a competitive disadvantage to other states in regard to attracting new businesses makes little sense.  

Raising the price of gasoline puts an unfair burden on those who can least afford it. Those who depend on cars or trucks  for long drives to earn a living, often those who live in rural areas, will be hit the hardest.

Editorials are the opinion of the Union-Bulletin's Editorial Board. The board is composed of Brian Hunt, Rick Eskil, James Blethen and Alasdair Stewart

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