Agriculture is unknowingly paying a carbon price even though it is exempt from the provisions of the Climate Commitment Act.

On January 1st of this year, the Climate Commitment Act (CCA) went into effect. The CCA establishes a cap-and-trade program that places a cap on emissions originating from various industries and businesses throughout the state. The Act exempted agriculture for on-highway and special fuel use. The Department of Ecology was directed to provide agriculture fuel purchasers with a certificate as proof of their exemption from the increased fuel costs derived from the CCA. This would ensure farmers were not assessed the CCA carbon price on their fuel purchases. 

This week, Washington Farm Bureau (WFB) was informed that the Department of Ecology rulemaking has not provided enough guidance for involved parties to successfully implement the certificate process and receive the exemption as provided in the law. WFB began receiving feedback from farmers and interested parties that the industry was not receiving the entire exemption outlined in the new law. 

The rate varies, but some estimate the carbon price is around 40 cents per gallon. The Department of Ecology is preparing further guidelines to fuel suppliers and distributors on documenting these exemptions for agricultural fuels. While these guidelines may be a positive step, the continued concern is that many in agriculture will find that they still may struggle to be reimbursed for the carbon price they have already been charged. There is no dependable path to ensure reimbursements are issued. 

“It’s unfortunate this program was launched with constructive knowledge that the agriculture exemption couldn’t be properly applied in accordance with the law,” Said WFB’s Director of Governmental Affairs, Bre Elsey. 

WFB is encouraging anyone in agriculture who has purchased fuel and paid towards a carbon price to call the Department of Ecology directly and let them know they are exempt. 

WFB will be exploring all options, including working with lawmakers on a potential legislative fix if Ecology officials are unable to comply with the law. By taking these steps, we can work together to encourage a timely resolution of this serious problem. 

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