Rep. Skyler Rude: We must continue to work toward more sound environmental policy
The state has a responsibility to protect the environment for all of us and future generations. It's a commonly agreed-upon sentiment, but like so many other issues, approaches differ widely on solutions. I am committed to economically sustainable environmental policies that do not place excessive costs and financial burdens on the taxpayers of Washington state.
We continue to see a push for a low-carbon fuel standard mandate, year after year. This year, it comes in the form of House Bill 1091, a bill that has already passed the House, despite bipartisan opposition.
HB 1091 is similar to legislation we've seen in Oregon, California, and British Columbia. It establishes a Clean Fuel Program to limit the greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector in our state, but it comes with increased fuel costs, which will inevitably be passed down to the consumer. California gas prices have risen 19-cents a gallon already, and one recent study estimated that this program could raise Washington gas prices by up 57 cents.
As we work toward economic recovery, our state's priority should be to repair the social and economic damages of the past year, not implement additional costly regulatory burdens. The last thing we should be considering as lawmakers is a policy that increases the cost of fuel, and by extension, the cost of goods, services, and food that depend on transportation. While many might be able to afford these cost increases, they could be crippling for those in our state who are already at or below the poverty line, in effect exacerbating regressive aspects of our tax system.
It's important to keep in mind that Washington State's contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions is minimal, in part due to zero-emissions hydro power throughout the northwest. Our nation needs to do our part to address greenhouse gas emissions, but that should happen at the federal level, not a patchwork of state policies. Washington State-driven climate change laws risk minimal environmental benefit, while creating competitive disadvantage for our state's businesses and driving up costs.
It is also important to consider that Washingtonians have repeatedly voted against carbon tax as a solution in reducing carbon and greenhouse gas emissions. The taxpayers in our state know there are better solutions to create a clean energy future without increasing taxes and higher energy costs.
While well-intended, there are more economically sustainable ways we can address and protect the environment in our state. We must continue to work toward sound environmental policy that doesn't hurt our state's most vulnerable populations. We can and should do better for the people of Washington state.
As published in the Dayton Chronicle and Prosser Record-Bulletin