California braces for increased fuel costs starting Jan. 1

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Truckers and others fueling in California could experience a jump in the price at the pump as soon as Thursday.

Jan. 1 marks the start date for implementing a new state rule on oil companies. The program allows the California Air Resources Board to cap greenhouse gas emissions and require gas and diesel producers to buy permits to exceed those caps.

Fuel prices are expected to increase as much as 10 cents per gallon in the first week of the New Year. According to estimates, the program could eventually result in a fuel tax increase between 15 cents and 76 cents per gallon.

State lawmakers on both sides of the aisle called for action this summer by Democratic leaders and Gov. Jerry Brown to prevent the looming tax increase. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, however, made it clear that he would not stand in the way of plans to put fuels that include gas and diesel under the state’s cap-and-trade program the first of the year.

Despite the setback, multiple lawmakers are picking up where they left off earlier this year.

Among the bills offered for consideration during the upcoming regular session is a measure that would exempt gas and diesel from the program.

Assemblyman Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, said that drivers do not deserve to be penalized by “un-elected bureaucrats.”

“I am all for clean air and doing what we can for climate change, but not at the expense of our economy and not with a regressive tax,” Wilk said in a recent news release. “At this point only Gov. Brown can stop CARB from enforcing this tax.”

Sen. Ted Gaines, R-Roseville, has offered an alternative that would delay for 10 years the rule requiring the energy industry to purchase permits for affected fuels.

“California already has the highest gas taxes in the nation at about 70 cents per gallon,” Gaines stated. “And now we’re asking the state’s working families and small businesses to dig even deeper into their pockets. When is enough, enough?”

The proposed changes can be considered once the Legislature convenes Jan. 6.

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