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How the Washington cap and trade proposal costs may be passed to consumers

Gov. Jay Inslee is pushing a billion-dollar cap and trade proposal for companies’ pollution emissions as a means of reducing greenhouse gases, but critics argue the costs will impact working class families. State Senator Doug Ericksen recently questioned a state Department of Ecology representative at the Legislature, and joined the Dori Monson Show to discuss.

“They’ve been working on this cap and trade scheme for 20 years now in Washington state. So you would think by this stage of the game that they would have a couple of answers figured out to simple things, like: What would this cap and trade scheme do to the average fuel costs for a middle-class family in Washington? What would the cost be at the pump to fill up your car, to heat your home, all those things,” he said.

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“And they said, ‘Well, no, you’re not going to pay, it’s the companies that pay it. It just gets tiring when they give the answers like that.”

Ericksen says what this will cost is ultimately hard to determine because of the complicated nature of implementation.

“It’s hard to figure in terms of what this particular one would do. Other bills, we got a better idea. Cap and trade is such a term of art and not science in terms of how you put it in place and who you exempt out. But included in the bill itself is a significant chunk of the tax dollars that would be taken from the middle-class people,” he said. “It is dedicated specifically to be given to lower income people to pay their heating and cooling bills and the fuel costs.”

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“Now it doesn’t define what low income is,” he added. “It doesn’t define what a marginalized person is. It just says that a big bunch of this money is going to be reserved to give to them to cover their cost of heating and cooling and their energy costs.”

He believes the costs will be passed onto consumers, and that the bill itself demonstrates a lack of understanding with how the industry operates.

“Keep in mind that Department of Ecology didn’t even understand that companies like oil refineries are what we call in the industry ‘energy intensive trade exposed,’ meaning they do a lot of overseas trade and ecology comes in and says, ‘Well, no, the oil refineries, they’re just more localized. They don’t really do any of that kind of stuff,'” he said.

“Oil refineries are the third biggest exporting industry in Washington state to the tune of about $2 billion a year, which brings wealth and jobs and things back home,” Ericksen said. “So if we shut those things down, ship them overseas, there’s another big hole you lose right there. So who’s going to be paying the taxes? That tax load goes up on other people if that happens.”

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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