Gas prices making Washington a national embarrassment
In late June, gas prices in Washington became the highest in the nation. A major reason for that is Washington’s carbon dioxide tax, which has caused a significant jump in gas prices that has the rest of the country taking note.
Currently, a motorist in Washington can expect to spend $4.96 per gallon, which is nearly 10 cents higher than in California and an incredible $1.42 above the national average. That extra cost isn’t just when you fill up your car, it also means you’re paying more for all goods that need to be transported from a producer to the store in which you buy them.
The state’s CO2 tax, which went into effect on January 1, is a “cap and trade” program which limits the amount of carbon dioxide a business or organization can produce. If they go over that cap, companies are required to purchase allowances at quarterly auctions. Experts warned that gas prices would skyrocket, despite Gov. Jay Inslee arguing the cost to consumers would be “pennies.” The experts were right, and Inslee is now making unsupported claims that Washingtonians are the victims of industry price gouging rather than the predicted result of his legislation – because supposedly gas companies are greedy in Washington and nowhere else.
Eastern Washington in particular is being crushed by the effects this program has had on agriculture, despite a promise that industry would be exempt. Since the taxation is done at the refinery level, it will be nearly impossible to keep that promise. Almost immediately after the tax went into effect, the Washington Farm Bureau began receiving calls from producers saying their costs had skyrocketed as a result. For now, the state and refineries are blaming each other while farmers are caught in the middle with no relief in sight.
As the effects of this law come to fruition, our exorbitant gas prices are a cautionary tale on national news. As other states consider similar measures – as does the federal government – one outlet said, “The warning for other states and the federal government could not be clearer – any serious attempt to penalize gasoline for its supposed contribution to climate change will lead to noticeably more pain at the pump.”
Another cautions “Washington’s gas tax at 49.4 cents a gallon is the country’s third highest after Pennsylvania and California. Evergreen State residents who have fled California’s high taxes are discovering they may have to move again.” As our recent polling showed, more than one-third of Washingtonians would leave the state if they had the opportunity – and the high cost of living was their top concern.
Around the country, lawmakers need to take note and ensure they don’t make the same mistakes that are driving people out of Washington.
But there is something Washingtonians can do about this. Visit Let’s Go Washington and find a signing location for their Stop the Hidden Gas Tax Initiative. If enough signatures are collected, it forces a vote by lawmakers.