WA lawmakers should talk to farmers before pushing a low carbon fuel plan

For the fourth year, Gov. Jay Inslee is pushing a low carbon fuel plan for Washington state, and for the fourth year in a row the proposal still promises too little benefit to justify the extra cost at the gas pump.

While the arguments for and against the plan haven’t changed much, this year proponents are emphasizing that adopting a Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) will help the state agriculture industry.

The problem is the farmers aren’t buying it. …

[Ben Buchholz, executive director of the Northwest Agricultural Cooperative Council], who farms in Prosser and Wapato with his father, recently met with the Tri-City Herald Editorial Board. He said, “Proponents keep saying this bill (HB1091) will be great for farmers, and that it will allow them to grow more corn and canola in Washington state. But Washington state doesn’t grow a lot of corn other than what is used for food stock at dairies. Corn is just not as valuable a crop that you can grow in irrigated soil.”

A study last year by Stillwater Associates, a California-based fuel consulting firm, found that 75% of biofuel production comes from the Midwest and other countries. …

Dana Bieber, spokeswoman for Affordable Fuel Washington — a state LCFS opposition group — told the Tri-City Herald that gas prices have gone up 19 cents a gallon in California since it implemented its LCFS plan 10 years ago, and that it is expected have added 46 cents a gallon by 2030.

And analysis by Puget Sound Clean Air Agency in 2019 concluded that an LCFS in Washington state could raise regional gas prices by 57 cents per gallon by 2030.

In addition, a 2018 report by the California Legislative Analysis Office concluded that the state’s LCFS is the most inefficient approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and the state should consider getting rid of it.

… And yet, Inslee continues to push Washington in the same direction as California. …

We believe in reducing carbon emissions in our state, but it must be a program that doesn’t put most of the burden on farmers, small businesses, families and people with lower incomes.

Farmers care deeply about the environment because their livelihoods depend on good land, clean water and air. State officials should get them on board with a carbon reduction plan before they try to get it approved through the Legislature.

Instead, they are pushing the same flawed idea over and over again, and it is still not worth the cost.

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