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Unpopular Opinion: Gas should be more expensive in Washington

(AP Photo)

When Jim Dever had an opportunity to express an unpopular opinion while standing in for Gee Scott on KIRO Nights, he didn’t pull any punches.

“Washington state currently has the second highest gas tax in the nation – 49.4 cents per gallon …” Dever said. “A lot of people feel that is just plain too high. My unpopular opinion is that gas is not nearly expensive enough.”

“Gasoline and our petroleum-based economy is literally killing us,” he said. “It makes people sick, it contributes to global warming … the Earth is getting hotter and more polluted and the use of petroleum across our economy is driving this in a big way.”

Dever says that Europe and other regions have already figured this out and have implemented their own gas fees to curb oil use. Hopefully, Washington can play a part in getting the United States to adopt its own fees to encourage a new, cleaner energy economy.

Washington voters will consider such a fee this November with I-1631. It would start a carbon fee in Washington state, placing a $15 fee per metric ton of carbon, starting in 2020. That fee will increase by $2 every year after that. The revenue would fund environmental programs related to climate change.

I-1631 has drawn support and criticism. Climatologist Cliff Mass opposes it saying it doesn’t go far enough and is too partisan to be effective. Bill Gates supports it and has given $1 million to the campaign. He says it will provide a market signal to encourage a new energy industry.

“There’s a hidden cost to gas,” Dever said. “Once you do the math … the cost should be at least double, some say $15 a gallon in order to subsidize and knock down the harmful aspects of using gasoline.”

“The gas tax could be used to subsidize renewable energy, because global warming is too big of a problem and too urgent for people to work out on their own or hope for the free market somehow figures it out. The free market is profiting quite a bit while killing the planet at the moment … so sometimes government has to step in. I’m not a crazy lefty … I’m just saying, wouldn’t it be nice to leave a planet that our children can actually survive in.”

Dever goes on to say that it takes about an acre per driver to offset the amount of pollution each driver causes — a forest about the size of Washington, Oregon, and California.

Proponent: I-1631 is not just about a carbon fee, it’s about the economy

RELATED: Climatologist’s argument against I-1631

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