Bid fails to refund cap-and-trade surcharges to Washington farmers

OLYMPIA — The Senate budget committee Monday rejected a Republican proposal to set aside $32 million to reimburse farmers paying cap-and-trade surcharges on fuel used to transport agricultural products.

Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, said the Inslee administration has failed to keep cap-and-trade from raising farming costs, as was promised in the Climate Commitment Act passed in 2021.

Schoelser, a member of the Ways and Means Committee, proposed refunding farmers from cap-and-trade auction proceeds. …

Cap-and-trade puts a price on carbon emissions from fossil fuels. Based on the first cap-and-trade auction, the price was 47 cents on a gallon of diesel, according to the nonpartisan Washington Research Council.

The law exempts emissions from moving farm goods, as well as maritime fuel. The Department of Ecology has not devised a method for exempting those fuels, which blend with other fuels through the supply chain.

Ways and Means Chairwoman Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, said she didn’t disagree there was a problem, but opposed Schoelser’s amendment.

“The money is being paid to the oil companies, not to the state,” she said. “We would be appropriating money that oil companies have been collecting.

“We don’t appropriate money that we don’t have,” Rolfes said.

The first cap-and-trade auction in February took in nearly $300 million for the state.

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