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Driving Change: Legislators Advocate Refund Checks to Counter Carbon Tax Impact

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To ease the financial impact of the carbon tax on drivers, Rep. April Connors and Rep. Mary Dye introduced House Bill 2040, the Carbon Auction Rebate (CAR). The proposed law proposes giving Washington’s 6.8 million registered vehicle owners a one-time fuel rebate check from the state’s $1.3 billion cap-and-trade carbon allowance auction surplus.

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CAR Bill Responds to Surging Gas Prices: Washington’s Carbon Auction Exceeds Expectations, Drivers Await Relief

Cap-and-trade carbon auctions began this year as part of the 2021 Climate Commitment Act. This year’s auction income exceeded estimates at $2 billion, compared to $574 million. As relief, the CAR bill distributes excess revenue to drivers.

Rep. Connors thinks the rebate is a good idea, even though it may not entirely offset rising gas prices. A July check would offer a payout of $360 to households with two vehicles.

Washington State gasoline prices have risen over 50 cents per gallon due to the carbon tax. Gov. Jay Inslee’s spokesperson, Mike Faulk, defended the carbon auctions, saying the monies come from significant polluters. The $200 billion-profit corporations in 2022 are suddenly accepting responsibility for their environmental damage, Faulk said.

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Carbon Auction Funds Benefit Washington: Gov. Inslee’s Initiatives and CAR Bill Navigate Amidst Cap-and-Trade Debate

Faulk says carbon auction funds are being used for good. These include free transit for under-18s, heat pumps and cost-saving weatherization for low-income households, electric school buses, and Washington job growth.

Faulk noted Gov. Inslee’s 2024 supplemental budget, which proposes a $200 CCA-funded electricity bill credit for low- and moderate-income households. Notably, the CAR law does not conflict with the CCA or affect earlier legislative investments made with CCA funding.

In light of these events, Let’s Go Washington filed Initiative 2117 to repeal the state’s cap-and-trade statute. If the initiative receives enough validated signatures, it will be presented to the Legislature and placed on the 2024 ballot if rejected. On January 8, the Washington State Legislature will begin its 60-day regular session to examine the CAR bill and carbon price concerns.

READ ALSO: Lawmakers propose sending drivers a refund check to offset carbon tax

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