Given its potential impact, a low carbon fuel standard should be fully debated, not implemented by gubernatorial executive order, writes guest columnist Mike Elliott.
GOV. Jay Inslee’s Carbon Emissions Reduction Taskforce has released its findings and recommendations on carbon-pricing alternatives. I applaud the governor for forming the task force, allowing for a transparent and balanced discussion on this important and complicated issue. However, what I’m left wondering is: Why is the governor also considering implementing a low-carbon fuel standard by executive order before the end of the year? Is an executive order the best approach before knowing all the facts?
Considering the potential impact to fuel prices at the pump alone, my sense is that a course similar to the task force process seems prudent on a fuel standard.
In Washington, we take pride in our reputation as being one of the greenest states in the nation. We are viewed by many as being both civic and political leaders on important environmental issues.
We must seek solutions to protect the lands and waterways we treasure and also support our trade-dependent economy. But we must do so in such a way as to preserve jobs we have worked decades to build, as well as protect new job potential for future generations.
I commend the governor for his commitment to seeking solutions that address the climate-change problem and help set the example for the rest of the world. But I respectfully disagree as to how we should go about accomplishing that feat. Should there be a balanced discussion or should we enact a standard without fully understanding its potential impacts? I believe anything with the potential to adversely affect jobs deserves a broader, more thorough discussion.
We continue to recover from one of the worst economic recessions in recent history. Jobs are returning, though not with the same wage-earning levels as pre-recession job numbers. For many, keeping pace with day-to-day costs remains a struggle. In the absence of higher-wage jobs, any small gain is easily wiped out by new or unexpected costs.
The low-carbon fuel standard the governor is considering by way of executive order could raise prices at the pump anywhere from 13 cents a gallon to $1.50. I’m told the purpose of the fuel standard is to encourage sustainable fuel production and use, with the ultimate goal being a reduction in carbon emissions (largely from cars and trucks operating on our roadways).
When considering climate change on a global scale, few would dispute the need to seek reductions in carbon emissions. But without a thorough understanding of potential impacts on fuel prices and, ultimately, jobs connected to transportation costs, further study of the fuel standard as a means of achieving reduced carbon emissions is warranted. While I’m all for lower carbon, cleaner fuels and better efficiency in our cars, trucks, industrial processes and lives, I cannot support taking action without knowing for certain we’re not sending jobs out of the state or, worse, overseas where few standards, if any, exist.
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Pump prices impact almost everyone and most every sector of our economy. Washington is the most trade-dependent state in the country and our fuel prices are some of the highest. How would higher fuel prices influence a new transportation package in Olympia? How would higher gas prices impact individuals, businesses, our trade-dependent economy and jobs? Is there a different — or better — way to produce similar results?
With this in mind, we need to carefully consider how additional influences, like a low-carbon fuel standard, might adversely impact pump prices and, ultimately, individuals, businesses, our trade-dependent economy and jobs.
The governor formed and has heard from the task force. Now, we should all focus on those recommendations and allow our elected officials, by way of the legislative process, to deliberate on how best to enact those recommendations into a sensible law that works for everyone. The same with the low-carbon fuel standard: Let’s continue our great state’s legacy of finding solutions beneficial to our environment, our economy and to all of our jobs — now and in the future.