‘This is bad policy’: Low-carbon fuel bill in Olympia would raise cost of gas, diesel

A bill addressing climate change, one of Gov. Jay Inslee’s goals for this legislative session, passed in the Washington House of Representatives on Saturday with support from Democrats. During a virtual floor debate, Republicans opposed the measure. …

… Republicans say it could raise the price of gasoline for every Washingtonian by 57 cents and diesel by 63 cents per gallon.

“This is a bad bill. This is bad policy,” Rep. Tom Dent, R-Moses Lake, said during the virtual floor debate. “We can’t afford it right now where we’re at with the economic condition of this state.” …

Rep. Mary Dye, R-Pomeroy, said during the virtual floor debate HB 1091 impacts most of the producers in the state — friends and neighbors who raise the goods people take for granted.

“This bill gives the keys to the kingdom to the Department of Ecology,” Dye said.

Dent said during the virtual floor debate he represents a district that is agricultural from one end to the other.

“I’ve been part of agriculture all my life, and I’m proud of the fact that we — the farmers and ranchers and the folks that work in agriculture — we feed the world,” Dent said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a burden to agricultural producers because it leaves some consumers unable to afford their products, Dent said. When producers lower their prices, they start struggling, too. …

Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, said during the virtual floor debate HB 1091 would negatively impact vulnerable families, including a family he had to do a welfare check on in the past. …

“All of these costs that we’re putting on to our fuels are going to be passed on to the consumer,” Klippert said. “For (the) mom, I think it’s even more toxic to tell her that everything she has to buy now is going to be going up.” …

Rep. Keith Goehner, R-Dryden, said during the virtual floor debate diesel is a “working fuel” that keeps the state’s economy moving. Adding additional costs to acquiring diesel would pose a challenge for farmers like him.

“As a farmer, my profit margin is very slim. In fact, we’ve just come off some years where we’ve lost money,” Goehner said. “Just because you farm, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to make money.”

Legislators need to look carefully at the unintended consequences bills like HB 1091 may bring, Goehner said. Potentially raising the cost of diesel by 63 cents per gallon would be devastating to the agricultural sector.

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