LCFS: “Bad news all around”

A proposal to create a low carbon fuel standard program (LCFS) in Washington state has cleared the House Appropriations Committee and could soon land on the House floor for a vote. Supporters view it as one part of an overall clean energy plan to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, which in 2014 composed roughly 1.4 percent of the national total.

However, industry association leaders warn that the proposal would add to consumer costs and, like Initiative 1631 rejected by voters last year, lacks pragmatism when addressing economic impacts.

“The program design is flawed; it always has been,” Western States Petroleum Association President (WSPA) Catherine Reheis-Boyd said. WSPA is a non-profit trade association that represents companies in Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. …

…Reheis-Boyd told Lens that California’s program, which is only partially implemented, offers an accurate glimpse of what Washington state can expect if the legislature adopts similar policy. …

… A 2018 report by California’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) noted that “most or all of the costs of purchasing credits and allowances are likely passed on to fuel consumers in the form of higher retail prices.” So far, it’s added $.13 per gallon, and LAO estimates it could add a total of $.46 by 2030 (page 30).

The LAO report also concluded that the LCFS program was 10 times costlier than the state’s cap-and-trade program.

“Why would you do that – choose the path that has that kind of a cost burden associated with it?” said Reheis-Boyd. …

As Reheis-Boyd sees it, the solid defeat of I-1631 last year sent a clear message: “People in Washington still care about being leaders in climate, but also care about a pragmatic approach. They are in that sweet balance spot where they want both; and they can have both.”

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