Washington state tracks red diesel on roads

| Friday, August 23, 2002

The Washington State Patrol is crisscrossing the state to crack down on illegal use of dyed diesel. Officials say the state has had enough of farmers and other offenders fueling their rigs with red diesel in order to save 47.4 cents a gallon in state and federal taxes.

The Evergreen State reportedly loses an estimated $15 million to $30 million a year from fuel-tax evasion. That money typically would be used on road maintenance and construction.

The state police checked hundreds of trucks Aug. 20 as part of an investigation by the agency's fuel tax-evasion unit. State police seized records from a Franklin County farm accused of using the tax-exempt fuel for non-farm uses.

Farmers are considered by the state to be the top violators of red-diesel laws, followed by the construction industry and well-drillers. Violators can be fined $1,000 per vehicle.

During a search of the Pasco-area farm last Tuesday, police carted off fuel records dating back to January 1999. The records reportedly will be used to determine whether the state will pursue civil fines and unpaid taxes.

The State Patrol said it stopped six trucks from the farm for other violations earlier this month and found they were using red diesel illegally as they hauled harvest equipment for a custom-bailing operation.

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