Carbon Tax: More Analysis from the State

If Gov. Jay Inslee and the Legislature adopt a carbon tax, new studies from his office show Washington's gasoline prices will increase.

By John Stang, CrossCut, September 25, 2014

If Gov. Jay Inslee pursues a carbon emission tax, Washington's gasoline prices could increase by as much 44 cents by the end of the decade.

At a meeting in Paco on Thursday, Matt Steuerwalt, Inslee's executive director for policy, briefed members of the Washington Senate Environment, Energy & Telecommunications Committee on two possible gas-price scenarios. Those scenarios did not include many of the outside economic influences that could affect how much economic impact a carbon tax would have.

Inslee is expected to introduce legislation on carbon emissions taxes or a cap-and-trade system in the 2015 legislative session, likely against stiff Republican opposition. The Inslee administration is leery about tackling both approaches simultaneously. Inslee has a climate change task force that is supposed to provide feedback for the governor as he designs his legislative package. That task force will present its recommendations to the governor in November, before he designs his proposed legislations.

Carbon emissions have been linked to increasing ocean acidity along Washington's shores, including in Puget Sound. That change in pH levels has begun killing baby oysters and harming other Northwest shellfish. Washington’s shellfish industry is worth about $270 million annually. Carbon emissions are also linked to global warming, which influences how snowpacks form and melt. That, in turn, affects how much water is available for farming and residential consumption.

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