Gov. Inslee’s Gas Tax – on costs v. benefits and the reality of LCFS availability and its effects on the environment

Todd Myers WaPoHost Kris Halterman, interviews Todd Myers,Director Center for the Environment at the Washington Policy Center about the impending executive order by Gov. Inslee on his “clean fuel tax.”  It’s time to delve into the nuts and bolts of Gov. Inslee’s proposal. What are the costs v. benefits, the reality of Low Carbon Fuel Standards (LCFS), fuel availability, and the effects on the environment?

Looming in the background is an Inslee push for low-carbon fuels, a concept that Republican legislators have opposed. Inslee cited carbon emissions reduction targets set in a 2008 state law. In 2008, Washington’s Legislature set a goal of reducing the state’s greenhouse emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, with further trimming of emissions to 25 percent below that 1990 level by 2035. By 2050, a 50 percent is required. He said he has the executive power to set low-carbon fuel stands as a way to enforce that 2008 law.

Inslee, however, said he has not decided whether to take that path if the Legislature does not tackle the standards to decrease the amount of carbon in fuels sold in Washington. “We don’t have the answer to that yet, but we are exploring that,” he said.

Also, Inslee has been studying whether to push either a carbon emissions tax or a cap-and-trade system through the Legislature. In a cap-and-trade program, Washington would have an overall annual limit to its carbon dioxide emissions. Firms would obtain rights for specific amounts of emissions in those areas and could trade their rights. A carbon tax is a levy on a firm’s carbon dioxide emissions, which is supposed to inspire a business to decrease its emissions. Inslee does not want to push both simultaneously.

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