Dear Friends and Neighbors,
After two weeks of long, late night and weekend sessions, today is the “opposite house cut off.” Bills originating in the Senate have to pass the House, and vice versa. Otherwise, unless they are considered “necessary to implement the budget” (NTIB) they are considered dead for the session.
Much is left to be done in the final two weeks of session, with budget negotiators hashing out the final details to the 2021-23 operating budget, capital budget and transportation budget. What troubles me right now is the potential increase in fuel prices.
With both the House and Senate passing Gov. Jay Inslee's “Low Carbon Fuel Standard” (LCFS) bill, House Bill 1091, we will see an increase in the cost of fuel. To comply with the LCFS mandate, low carbon liquid fuels like ethanol, biodiesel, or renewable diesel must be blended in with traditional gasoline. Fuel producers and other regulated entities under the bill that cannot meet these requirements would have to purchase “credits” from businesses that supply low carbon fuels or use credits that have been banked in previous compliance years.
When California tried this scheme, it raised the cost of gas by $0.19 cents per gallon, with an estimated increase of $0.46 cents by 2030. In a very detailed report comparing Washington's LCFS proposal (HB 1091) with California's, it was found that:
“The costs to comply with HB 1091 are anticipated to be higher than those seen in California or Oregon…”Stillwater Associates, LLC, “Implications of Washington HB 1091: Proposed LCFS Legislation that is Twice as Ambitious as California LCFS,” January 28, 2021.
You can read the full report, and how Washington's LCFS compares to California's and how it would harm our economy here.
In addition to potential gas tax increase and the passing of the LCFS, we also have to consider the Democrat Cap and Trade plan, Senate Bill 5126. Voters have rejected carbon-pricing schemes in the past (I-732 failed 59%-41% in 2016; I-1631 failed 57%-43% in 2018), yet the majority party and the governor seem intent on ignoring the will of the people.
The cap and trade proposal directs the Department of Ecology to implement a cap on greenhouse gas emissions from certain entities and a program to track, verify, and enforce compliance. Carbon credits would be traded, creating a new, potentially unstable and manipulative market. Keep in mind, Washington state emits less than three-tenths of one percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. If we eliminated every car, truck, train, plane, and boat, the impacts to global greenhouse gas emissions would be less than three-tenths of one percent! This cap and trade scheme will do very little, yet cost our citizens and industries a lot.
Taken altogether, these three things (gas tax increase, low carbon fuel standard, and cap and trade) would nearly double the current state and federal gas tax in our state.
I'll continue to update you as the session winds to a close. Please continue to contact my office with questions or concerns about state issues. We are here to serve you.