Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg will not be pursuing a carbon tax on consumer fuels as he had announced in February. Instead he will be allocating billions of dollars from California’s greenhouse gas reduction law, otherwise known as Cap and Trade, toward the controversial bullet train and affordable housing.
In an AP story reported by the Union Democrat, Steinberg pivoted from his prior stance in order to help support environmentally friendly infrastructure projects such as the bullet train, while also helping financially challenged Californians obtain affordable housing.
On Monday, speaking in Sacramento to transit, housing, and environmental advocates, the California senate leader proudly stated that he was a “quick learner.” Alluding to his earlier plan to tax consumer gasoline, he said, “Unlike the last time, I am thrilled to stand with a broad coalition.”
Originally, Steinberg was against using cap-and-trade revenue to fund the high-speed rail project, but, based on his news conference, he has had a change of heart. “I think it’s visionary. I think it’s a major job-creator, and I think future generations will be glad that we withstood the controversy,” Steinberg said.
The AP reported that Republicans were happy that Steinberg moved away from his estimated 15-cents-a-gallon carbon tax on fuel, which would have gone into effect next year. “Glad that the pro tem wisely backed away from a gas tax that would have unfairly punished lower-income working families,” said Peter DeMarco, a spokesman for Senate Republicans.
Nevertheless, next year, consumers may get hit with increases at the gas pump if the cap-and-trade program expands to include carbon-based consumer fuels.