Conservatives are saying the new program is causing Washington to have the highest gasoline prices in the nation. Oil companies with refineries in Washington must buy carbon allowances to keep emitting carbon dioxide. They appear to be passing those costs onto customers at the gas pump.
The new carbon pricing program went into effect on Jan. 1, 2023. Washington posted the highest gas prices in the nation in June and July.
“It’s such a scam. It’s a hidden tax,” said Brian Heywood, head of Let’s Go Washington, at a Republican candidates festival in Redmond on July 29.
Heywood says Gov. Jay Inslee and Democratic lawmakers downplayed the potential impact on Washington’s carbon auctions on gas prices. Inslee and his administration predicted in 2021, when the Legislature passed the program, that gasoline prices would rise only a few pennies. “He lied to begin with,” Heywood said.
The first two carbon auctions have raised more than $800 million, some for fiscal 2024 and some for fiscal 2025. The Legislature allocated the money for 2024 to 188 projects, including solar panel farms, climate planning, constructing electric vehicle infrastructure and other alternative energy projects.
Heywood contends the program was designed to raise gas prices to force people to switch from gas-powered to electric vehicles.
Inslee spokesman Mike Faulk noted that the petition on Let’s Go Washington’s website calls for banning cap-and-trade whether the increased costs are paid by fuel suppliers or people at the pump.
“Sounds like it has more to do with climate denialism than addressing consumers’ concerns about gas prices,” Faulk said.
Let’s Go Washington has to collect 324,516 valid signatures by Dec. 29 to submit any of the six petitions it is developing to the Legislature. If the Legislature decides not to act on the petitions with enough signatures in its 2024 session, they would go on the election ballot for the November 2024 election. Democrats have significant majorities in both the Washington House and Senate, meaning any successful petition would likely receive a chilly reception.
The five other petitions being pursued by Let’s Go Washington would:
- Call for repealing a new capital gains tax.
- Forbid any state or local income tax.
- Make participation in the state’s new long-term care insurance program optional.
- Remove some restrictions on police pursuits.
- Allow students to opt out of surveys, assignments and sex education and enable more parent access to their children’s records and instructional materials.