Sharp increase in gas prices will be major legislative issue in 2024
Note: The following e-newsletter was sent to Sen. MacEwen’s subscribers Nov. 8, 2023. To subscribe to Sen. MacEwen’s email, click here.
Dear friends and neighbors,
For the 35th Legislative District, the Belfair Bypass has been a long time coming. Whether we live in the immediate vicinity or merely pass through Belfair on our way from Shelton to the Kitsap Peninsula, many of us are greatly affected by the congestion on Highway 3.
The good news is that the state Department of Transportation is finally ready to begin work. On Thursday evening, your 35th District lawmakers will host a town hall in Belfair to discuss the project. I will be joined by my seatmates, Reps. Dan Griffey and Travis Couture, as we hear from DOT representatives about project details and timelines.
This project will reduce congestion on this vital transportation artery and improve the quality of life in the Belfair area. I am glad we were able to defeat efforts this last legislative session to delay this project. In previous years, we set aside $79 million for Bypass construction. This year we added $12 million to stave off delays and supply interruptions, and gave DOT the green light. At long last, the Belfair Bypass is finally poised to become reality.
Summertime gas-price spike highlights weaknesses in cap-and-trade legislation
Legislation for next year aims to relieve pressure on gas prices, increase transparency, fulfill promises that were never kept
Last month I appeared on TVW’s The Impact with Sen. Joe Nguyen, D-Seattle, to discuss legislation that has increased gas prices in Washington state. You can see this interview here. I am the ranking Republican member of the Senate Environment, Energy and Telecommunications Committee, and Nguyen is committee chair.
This summer’s spike in gas prices here in Washington state demonstrates that there are major problems with the state’s new cap and trade program. As the lead Republican on the committee that oversees energy legislation, I am in the thick of the debate. We can expect important legislation next session on this issue, to fulfill promises that were never kept.
This legislation was passed in 2021, with the idea that it might reduce the state’s carbon output. About all we can say so far is that it has increased gas prices. The program took effect in January, as gas prices were rising nationwide. Washington leapfrogged into the lead, and for several weeks this summer, we had the highest gas prices in the nation. Today we are number three. Experts tell us cap and trade has added about 50 cents to the cost of a gallon of gas.
This counters the promise made by Gov. Jay Inslee that the cost would be pennies a gallon. We were assured that proceeds would be spent only on projects that would reduce carbon. We were promised an exemption for agriculture and the maritime industry that never materialized. We can’t even say what effect this is having on carbon emissions, because the Department of Ecology has not released emissions data after 2019.
Next session we will be introducing legislation to address these obvious weaknesses. Our proposals would rank and categorize projects based on their ability to reduce emissions. We would require greater transparency from the Department of Ecology, and honor the exemptions granted in the original legislation. The current administration has attempted to divert attention from the high costs that this program has imposed on the people of this state. We deserve to know what we are getting for our money. These proposals are a good place to start.
Thanks for reading! It is an honor serving you,
Senator, 35th Legislative District
My most important duty is to serve you. I hope you will contact me or my legislative assistant, Rob Barnes, if you have any concerns about state government, or a problem with a state agency.
Phone: (360) 786-7668
Mail: P.O. Box 40435, Olympia, Wash. 98501
Leave a message on the Legislative Hotline: 1-800-562-6000