OPINION: Lawmakers must reject costly, ineffective fuel mandate

In the midst of the greatest economic downturn of our time, state lawmakers are pursuing legislation that would significantly increase fuel costs for Snohomish County families, farmers and businesses.

In addition to a proposed gas tax hike and a carbon fee, legislators are once again considering a low carbon fuel mandate that would substantially increase the cost of gasoline and diesel fuel. Despite staggering costs, little would be gained in return — for workers, families, our county’s crumbling transportation infrastructure or the environment. …

A low carbon fuel standard or “LCFS” would effectively tax higher carbon fuels like gasoline and diesel and subsidize lower carbon fuels like biofuels. Governor Inslee and those in favor of the LCFS point to California and Oregon — the only states with this mandate — to highlight benefits, but their claims are simply not supported by the data.

According to industry data, the LCFS is currently adding 24 cents per gallon to the cost of gasoline in California and it is only partially implemented. …

In Washington, research suggests those added fuel costs could be even higher. A study conducted on a proposed Puget Sound regional LCFS found that an LCFS could add up to 57 cents per gallon to the cost of gasoline and 63 cents to diesel by 2030. …

Estimates show the added fuel costs alone could total about $900 per household per year. For those driving longer distances to work, costs would be even greater. …

Also troubling, despite increasing fuel costs, not one penny would go towards improving our crumbling transportation infrastructure or to provide money for our state’s budget deficit. The money won’t go to road improvements between Monroe or Sultan. There would be no funds for roads, bridges, restoration of salmon culverts or stormwater cleanup. …

As for the environment, the data from the California Air Resources Board does not support claims that an LCFS would substantially improve air quality or significantly reduce emissions contributing to climate change.

Given current economic conditions, Washingtonians cannot afford the higher fuel costs of an LCFS – estimated at $1.3 billion a year by 2028 — with no value offered in return.

We urge you to contact your legislators to oppose HB 1091, a costly and ineffective fuel mandate in Washington state — and Snohomish County, too. …

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