The Oregonian is Mad as Hell and Won’t Take it Any More

Channeling their inner Howard Beale, The Oregonian’s editors are mad as Hell with the governor and they aren’t going to take his tax schemes any more. Last week, the editorial board slammed Gov. John Kitzhaber’s plan to raise gasoline costs on Oregon families, which the editors panned as a “global-warming gas tax.”

The editorial begins by admonishing gas-tax advocates for deceiving Oregonians:

Gov. John Kitzhaber and other proponents of a low-carbon fuel standard, we wrote last month, habitually mislead Oregonians about the program’s pocketbook impact. Full implementation of the complicated mandate, they like to say, could save businesses and individuals up to $1.6 billion in fuel over about 10 years. What they don’t say is that the study from which they cherry-picked this number assumes that Oregonians will realize these “savings” by spending an extra $1.6 billion on electric cars and plug-in hybrids. In other words, they’ll save bubkes. [Emphasis mine]

Far from saving money for Oregon families, the low-carbon fuel standard would likely make gasoline more expensive. As the editors point out, Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality projected that the scheme would increase pump prices by as much as 19 cents per gallon. When asked, 56 percent of Oregonians opposed the plan if it would raise their fuel costs.

Even if Gov. Kitzhaber gets his “global-warming gas tax,” it will do little to combat global warming. As the editors explain:

Oregon, which accounts for about 1.2 percent of the nation’s population, was responsible for less than seven tenths of 1 percent of the nation’s carbon dioxide in 2011, the most recent year for which the U.S. Energy Information Administration has released state-level data. In the global-warming universe, Oregon is a rounding error, and most people reasonably conclude that 19 cents a gallon is a high price to pay merely to burnish the state’s brand. [Emphasis mine]

Oregon’s proposal is modeled on California’s low-carbon fuel standard. The Golden State requires fuel providers to reduce the carbon intensity of gasoline and diesel fuel by 10 percent in 2020. A lot of factors contribute to the price that motorists pay at the pump, but it’s no coincidence that California’s gas prices are the second highest among the lower-48 states.

A low-carbon fuel standard is a lose-lose for Oregon families: it raises fuel costs and does nothing to combat global warming. Kudos to The Oregonian for calling out the governor and looking out for its readers.

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