The new numbers are in and the results are much higher than estimated.


On Wednesday, May 31, the Department of Ecology (DOE) held its second quarterly Climate Commitment Act (CCA) Cap-and-Invest Program auction. On Wednesday of the following week, DOE issued the results. With the numbers in, the resulting carbon prices amount to an additional $0.45 for every gallon of gas purchased and an additional $0.54 for every gallon of diesel purchased.

Last year, Governor Jay Inslee confidently declared that the CCA "is going to have a minimal impact, if any. Pennies. We are talking about pennies," While the definition of “minimal impact” may be subjective, many Washingtonians may find the CCA as having much more than minimal impact as they watch prices continue to rise. The reality is much starker for Washington’s farms as the battle over agriculture’s exemption from the carbon price continues. Farmers and ranchers, who are by law exempted from the carbon price for fuel used for agricultural purposes, have not seen that exemption honored.

Applying the carbon price amounts from last week’s auction to an average farm, a farmer is looking at paying an average of $1,777 in additional costs for the fuel used. Multiplying that number by the number of farms throughout the state, the agricultural sector is looking at paying $63,083,500 in CCA revenue alone. That number is 163% higher than the estimates projected a year ago and it does not include the carbon price for fuels such as propane, natural gas, and ag barging which is currently unquantifiable, but likely many million dollars more than the latest total. Putting all of that together, agriculture is now expecting to pay somewhere around $74 million on top of their regular fuel prices in 2023 alone.

The irony is that, by law, agriculture is exempt from the carbon price, yet the state refuses to support that exemption. Stevens County Dairy Owner/Operator Julie Loveall stated, 

“The state is failing to uphold the law and my family are the ones who are literally paying for it.”

 Bre Elsey, Washington Farm Bureau (WFB) Director of Governmental Affairs, called agriculture’s exemption an “issue that is compounding every day that this problem remains unresolved.”

The reality is that the CCA and its impact has been egregiously misrepresented to the agriculture community as well as to the public at large. Washington Policy Center’s Environmental Director, Todd Myers, noted that the portions of the DOE website, “that confidently claimed that gas prices wouldn’t increase by 46 cents a gallon and promising ‘minimal’ price impacts in 2023 has been completely removed.” The state appears to recognize the incongruity between its messaging and the reality it is allowing to continue. WFB continues to advocate for the exemption agriculture is guaranteed by law and every day that the exemption is not honored is another day the government is breaking the law. 

As the Cap-and-Invest program continues, consumers continue to feel the harsh burden it creates.

Gas pumps
© 2024 Washington Farm Bureau · design : hemisphere