King says gas-price hike from ‘cap-and-trade’ auctions will hurt drivers even more

Sen. Curtis King, Republican leader on the Senate Transportation Committee, said the state’s latest carbon-pricing auction will cause gasoline prices to continue rising, further hurting Washington drivers and businesses. This will also raise the prices for all things being shipped, which is about every item consumers use, further adding to high inflation.

“Since the carbon auctions authorized by the state’s cap-and-trade program began this year, nearly $1.5 billion has been collected – and much of that money ultimately comes from drivers who have to endure paying more and more at the pump. It isn’t fair to them,” said King. “It’s $1.5 billion that they could be using to improve their quality of life.”

King said the most recent auction, held by the Department of Ecology on Aug. 30, is expected to eventually bring the cumulative gas-price hike associated with cap-and-trade – formally called the Climate Commitment Act – to over 51 cents a gallon.

King, R-Yakima, said the gas-price hikes caused by the cap-and-trade program are like a regressive tax because they take a bigger financial bite from lower-income citizens.

“Low-income drivers are not as able to withstand these ever-rising gas prices,” said King. “As gas prices climb, more people in Washington are unable to afford to drive to work or drive to the doctor’s office or do other things that require a car. The cap-and-trade program is punishing the low-income people in our state.

“Governor Inslee’s policy is trying to impoverish Washingtonians into changing their driving behavior by making them stop driving gas-powered cars, and at the same time attempting to make it more expensive for many people to heat their homes because cap-and-trade will raise natural-gas prices as well,” added King. “This program championed by our governor is being unnecessarily cruel to many people in our state by causing fuel and heating prices to soar.”

King said that recent figures on state carbon emissions will not be available for quite some time, noting that DOE’s last report on emission data is from 2019, with the next report due in late 2024.

“How can anyone even assess whether cap-and-trade and all of Inslee’s other environmental programs are affecting air quality without the latest data? 2019 is a long time ago,” said King.

King noted only 11 states have regular gas prices over $4 a gallon – Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington.

“While most Americans are enjoying gas prices below $4 a gallon, Washington drivers are having to pay $5 or more a gallon, due to the cap-and-trade program, and it is only going to get worse,” said King.