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California’s cap-and-trade program is a carbon tax

California’s cap-and-trade program is a carbon tax

California set a record for greenhouse gas reductions in 2020, but it means nothing if California voters don’t approve a carbon tax, says Philip Duffy of the Natural Resources Defense Council in Oakland. The tax would impose a relatively modest charge on all carbon-based energy.

The ballot initiative, dubbed Proposition C, includes language that would raise the tax on the fuel by $10 per metric ton in 2020, $20 per metric ton in 2023, $30 per metric ton in 2030, and $40 per metric ton in 2040.

But it doesn’t cover the full cost of the tax. California’s cap-and-trade program, which is aimed at reducing greenhouse gases, would absorb $16 billion of the cost. (The cap-and-trade program is also known as the California Global Warming Solutions Act.)

At least $10 billion of the costs are coming from transportation, and to meet that state requirement, Proposition C would have to raise the tax on the state’s trucks.

This week, the California Air Resources Board proposed a gas-mileage surcharge on trucks weighing more than 2,300 pounds and less than 4,000 pounds. The cost is estimated to be about $18 per gallon, which doesn’t include the fuel and the $10 charge per metric ton on trucks.

The cap-and-trade program was passed eight years ago in the State Assembly, but was vetoed by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The cap-and-trade program is supposed to be revenue neutral. But the governor and his political allies want more, and they have been working all offseason to get around the cap-and-trade program’s carbon tax by raising the diesel tax.

The latest attempt is a measure that has already passed the state Senate and awaits signature from Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has vowed to sign it. It would raise diesel tax by $3 per gallon.

It’s an attempt to do what the governor had tried in the past, but failed. In 2010, when the state Legislature was debating the cap-and-trade program, Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1, which would have

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