Valley Braces for Hidden Gas Tax

There is something ominous coming our way in January 2015; something that has been called a “hidden gas tax.”  Those are three horrifying words.  Most consumers would agree that fuel is taxed enough already and fuel prices are certainly high enough already.  But that is what Californians have to look forward to in January 2015 if nothing can be done to delay it.  It sounds awful, and I think it really could be awful, but is it really a tax at all?

The Modesto Bee describes a cap-and-trade rule “that would require energy companies to purchase greenhouse-gas emission credits for transportation fuels beginning Jan. 1.  The costs of those credits will likely cause the price of gasoline and diesel to go up 12 to 17 cents a gallon – and potentially more, depending on demand for credits in state auctions.”  It sounds like the price of gas is anticipated to go up as a consequence of the mass purchase of emission credits.  Ok, but that’s not a tax!

Assemblyman Henry Perea of Fresno is requesting a three-year delay on said rule as it applies to transportation fuels.  He says that the constituents in his jurisdiction (the Central Valley) would be particularly hard-hit by an increase in fuel prices.  The Bee article states that residents of towns like Modesto often have to drive farther for their business or trade and they have older, less fuel-efficient vehicles compared to folks on the coast.  Also, valley residents spend a larger percentage of their income on gasoline, according to studies.  I don’t dispute the studies, and I certainly would support any reasonable initiative aimed at curbing gas prices, but have you been to San Francisco lately?  Don’t they burn almost as much gas sitting in traffic as we do driving down highway 99?

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