California Legislature Passes Buck on Preventing $.15-70 Increase in Gas Price

California Legislature Passes Buck on Preventing $.15-70 Increase in Gas Price

Dan Walters: Legislature ducking debate on big fuel price hike

When the Legislature adjourns this month, it will likely leave Assembly Bill 69 still sitting in the Senate Rules Committee, thereby avoiding an election-year debate on whether California motorists should cough up billions of extra dollars when they buy gas.

The measure, introduced by Assemblyman Henry Perea, D-Fresno, and backed by quite a few other Democrats, would delay putting fuel under the state’s cap-and-trade system of reducing greenhouse gases.

If the Air Resources Board has its way, that will occur in January. The money that refiners will be paying the state for automotive emissions will translate into higher costs for motorists already paying some of the nation’s highest fuel prices.

How high?

Nobody truly knows. The Air Resources Board’s own data indicate a range of 15 cents to 70 cents a gallon more. The Legislature’s budget analyst, Mac Taylor, says in a letter to Perea this week it “likely will be 13 cents to 20 cents per gallon, but could be higher” and “could exceed 50 cents a gallon by 2020.”

There’s a lot of money at stake. With motorists buying about 1.2 billion gallons of gas each month, even a 15-cent increase would generate $2 billion-plus a year.

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