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California’s “hidden” 50-cent gas tax increase set to take effect within the next two years



A recent report from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) indicates that a longstanding emissions reduction program in the state could result in a significant increase in gasoline prices. The report suggests that gas prices could rise by about 50 cents a gallon next year and continue to increase annually as part of efforts to improve air quality. This price increase does not include the existing gas tax in the state.

Republican state Sen. Janet Nguyen has raised concerns about this “secret” tax increase, noting that it would disproportionately impact middle and low-income Californians who rely on gasoline for everyday activities such as going to school, work, or the doctor’s office. The report attributes these gasoline price hikes to the implementation of the Low Carbon Fuel Standard reforms established in 2007, with projections indicating significant increases in gas and diesel prices in the coming years.

CARB has recently finalized new rules mandating a transition from traditional petroleum-powered vehicles to zero-emissions alternatives, aligning with the state’s ambitious climate agenda. California aims to phase out new gasoline-powered cars and achieve 100% electric vehicle sales by 2035, with nearly 20 other states adopting similar regulations. The state’s broader effort to electrify the transportation sector is part of the California Climate Commitment unveiled by Governor Gavin Newsom in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and oil demand significantly.

While the report’s projections may lead to concerns about rising gas prices for California residents, the focus on transitioning to electric vehicles is also emphasized as a cost-saving measure for drivers. As more people make the switch to EVs, the cost of gasoline may become less of a burden. Additionally, the push for zero-emissions vehicles aligns with the state’s larger climate goals and commitment to reducing pollution.

The potential impacts of the emissions reduction program on gas prices highlight the complexities of balancing environmental goals with economic considerations. While efforts to improve air quality and reduce reliance on fossil fuels are crucial in addressing the climate crisis, policymakers must also be mindful of the financial implications for consumers, especially those in already vulnerable economic situations. As California continues to lead the way in implementing ambitious climate policies, ongoing discussions and evaluations of the costs and benefits of such initiatives will be essential.

Overall, the report from CARB underscores the challenges and trade-offs associated with transitioning to cleaner transportation options in California. While concerns about rising gas prices are valid, the broader goal of reducing emissions and combating climate change remains a top priority for the state. As the transition to electric vehicles gains momentum, ongoing monitoring and adjustments to policies will be necessary to ensure a sustainable and equitable transition for all Californians.

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