Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington, is making life more expensive for Washingtonians as a matter of government policy. The Climate Commitment Act (CCA) tax legislation that went into effect in January of 2023 has already raised prices at the pump and seen announced home natural gas price rises. That’s a feature, not a bug. A tax on energy logically would lead to an increase in the cost of energy. But instead of being honest about this, Inslee and his appointees are doing everything they can to hide the cost of his anti-affordable energy policies.
Earlier this year in July, Washington state passed California for the state with the highest average gas prices. The rapid increase in gas prices could hardly have been unexpected. Based on the average prices in the first two rounds of CCA auctions, where taxes were collected by the state for permission to use energy, a 50 cents per gallon increase would be expected if companies passed on the full cost of the tax to consumers. Indeed, part of why California has long had the highest gas prices in the nation is precisely due to the energy tax policies that Inslee sought to copy with the CCA.
In response to this completely foreseeable and foreseen result of his legislative priorities, one might have expected Inslee, climate warrior that he is, to offer a ringing defense of climate policy. After all, reducing carbon dioxide emissions means using less energy, and higher prices are how you force people to use less energy. Climate policy, and climate taxes like the CCA, are supposed to increase gas prices. But instead of climate honesty, Washingtonians got lies and blame shifting.
Inslee first claimed that maintenance on a pipeline was the cause of high gas prices. Only problem was that the pipeline was only down for three and a half days and had been fully operational for weeks when Inslee was blaming it for prices. Besides being false, the irony of Inslee blaming pipeline capacity for problems, when he has been famously opposed to pipeline construction, seemingly anywhere, is rich. Inslee then blamed mythical “price gouging” and oil company profits as the reason, even though gasoline supply is well-known as a low margin business and oil companies have no control over what prices individual service stations charge.
Nowhere in his excuses does he mention the hundreds of millions of dollars in new taxes on energy use he imposed in 2023 (and billions more expected in subsequent years), the costs of which fall disproportionately on oil companies. These costs are inevitably passed through to customers. Inslee is reaping what his policies have sowed.
Now Inslee’s people are at it again. Last week, the state Utilities and Transportation Commission approved a rate hike for natural gas provided by Puget Sound Energy. In the decision, the Commission explicitly noted that the rate hike was to compensate for the $16.8 million in energy taxes imposed under Inslee’s CCA. But the commissioners, appointed by Governor Inslee, don’t want anyone to know about that part. The Commission banned Puget Sound Energy from including a line item in customer bills explaining the reason for higher gas prices.
It is patently obvious that Inslee’s CCA energy tax is increasing the cost of energy for Washingtonians. Environmental activists are at least often honest about this: emitting less carbon dioxide requires using less energy. The impacts on the quality of life of citizens takes a back seat to the climate crusade. Governor Inslee, however, seems to lack the courage of his convictions. The climate governor thinks that the “climate crisis” is the only thing that matters, unless there happen to be negative political consequences, then someone else must be at fault.