Wanna Pay 8-9 Bucks per Gallon of Gas?

Wanna pay 8-9 bucks a gallon for gas?  Think it couldn't happen here?

It’s already happening.

The "Hidden Gas Tax”, buried deep within California's"Cap-and-Trade" program, was tucked away in the fine print of AB 32—a 2006 bill that radically increased government control over businesses in the name of reducing “global warming," and which goes into effect Jan 1, 2015. 

AB32 is administered by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the board responsible for drafting regulations to achieve the broad and often vague goals of the actual law.  

CARB has elected to expand the devastating Cap-and-Trade scheme to include transportation fuels such as gasoline and diesel. That means refiners and importers will need to buy carbon credits, just like manufacturers, food processors and power plants. Of course, we all know who will pay those added costs.  

Now, even moderate Democrats are sounding the alarm about a problem they created with the help of Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.  

Earlier this summer, 16 Democrats signed a letter asking CARB chair Mary Nichols to delay or redesign California’s punitive Cap-and-Trade program. In the letter, they make the same point critics have been making all along--namely, that AB32 is nothing more than a capital confiscation scheme.  

"We are concerned about the impact of the AB 32 cap-and-trade program on our constituents," they write, adding that "many of the areas we represent are still struggling with double digit unemployment."

Now, that letter has given birth to a new bill, AB 69 authored by Assemblyman Henry Perea (D-Fresno). AB 69 would delay implementing the hidden gas tax portion of the Cap-and-Trade program for transportation fuels for three years. 

This will be the last opportunity for the legislature to stop the egregious fuel charges that are sure to follow.  

How egregious?  

According to the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO), retail gas prices will rise by 13 to 20 cents per gallon immediately, and up to 50 cents by 2020, but CARB’s own analysis calls for both diesel and gasoline to rise by 76 cents per gallon. 

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, some analysts said the increase will be far worse:  "The Boston Consulting Group predicted in 2012 that cap and trade and the state's carbon fuel standard would drive up gas prices between $0.49 and $1.83 per gallon by 2020. These green regulations are intended to raise the cost of gas to encourage people to drive less or buy electric cars."

While I commend my Assembly colleague for literally taking the bull (and his Democrat Caucus) by the horns to turn back the "hidden gas tax,” it’s strange that they weren’t concerned about it when it ostensibly only affected larger companies and corporations.  

Naturally those hardest hit are not the wealthy owners, but the little guys who lost their jobs (or never got hired) due to the increase in new fees and taxes that sapped capital for expanding and hiring.  

The Democrats' newfound concern over this issue seems to stem from possible voter backlash. Democrats were so proud of Cap-and-Trade in 2006 when the legislature passed AB 32, the "Holy Grail" of environmentalists.  They ignored science--especially the science of economics--and discounted the tremendous advances in environmental science and technology that have drastically reduced our air pollution by every measure. 

Those of us who support a balanced, sound-science approach to preserving our air quality and natural resources are called insulting names, insinuating we are somehow owned by Big Oil. 

Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, any increase in the cost of gasoline or diesel hits the little guy, the working poor and the small business owner harder than anyone else.  

I have consistently stood against CARB, even attempting to abolish the agency with my own bill (AB 1332), because in the name of attempting to change the “climate”, this agency has managed to decimate the business climate in what was once the fastest-growing, strongest economy in the country.   

While AB 69 will delay the implementation of this portion of AB 32 for three years, California's economy cannot withstand such a jolt even three years from now.  

I am pleased Assemblyman Perea and his legislative colleagues will drop partisan politics in order to reform one of the most damaging pieces of legislation in California history.  

I will fully support their efforts to oppose the upcoming implementation of cap-and-trade and hope they convince Governor Jerry Brown to join them in our effort. 

For once, let's simply be a friend to our economy and the good people of California, without any surprises in the fine print. Because what you can’t see can hurt you.


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