Climate law and community investment cost consumers and businesses

Diana Urban’s comment “Call the politicians who use manipulative ‘push polls'”, on February 3, caught my eye when the author personally fired at me, saying I was “clearly using fuzzy math” and that I was trying to scare people by saying that New York’s climate and community investment bill proposal (S4264A/A6967) would result in a 55-cent-per-gallon increase in gasoline taxes. “No sane legislature” would do that, she added.

Let’s hope not.

The math is quite simple and, in fact, 54 cents per gallon. So simple that I wondered why the sponsors of the bill keep saying its impact is “undetermined”. In its first year, it would tax all forms of fossil fuels at a rate of $55 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions. Using widely accepted conversion factors, this equals 54 cents per gallon of gasoline.

It’s debatable whether this total amount will be passed on to consumers, but plenty of independent research shows that gasoline taxes usually are, often with a “mark-up.” And the bill’s authors recognize that this tax will hit consumers, so they’re also proposing a rebate program for low- and middle-income households and some small businesses to offset the extra costs.

For me, the biggest problem here is that some advocates and policymakers want to believe that New York’s aggressive push to reduce emissions and expand renewable energy will come at no cost to residents and businesses in the state. The cost will be significant and we need to make smart choices to ensure they produce meaningful benefits and don’t just push economic activity and emissions out of state.

Ken Pokalski

Albany

Vice President, New York State Business Council

Jill E. Washington