Rep. April Connors plans to introduce the CAR Program, which could net registered vehicle owners in Washington a $100 check (up to $200 per family) next July.
State Rep.Connors’ financial relief measure, also known as the Carbon Auction Relief (CAR) Payment program, would send the excess revenue collected under the state’s new carbon allowance auctions directly to Washington drivers. She adds that future payments could be larger based on how much surplus revenue the state brings in.
This all stems from the the Climate Commitment Act (CCA), which was passed by legislative Democrats in 2021. The CAA enacted a cap-and-trade program that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2023. The supposed aim of Cap-and-trade programs is to “reduce carbon emissions” by putting a “price on them.” The state’s program has raised about three times more revenue than anticipated, increasing the cost of gasoline by about 50 additional cents per gallon.
According to AAA, Washington had the highest average regular gasoline price in the nation this summer (surpassing even California). Today, as you very well have seen, the average cost of regular gasoline in Washington is just over $5 per gallon.
In a press release, Representative Connors stated, “High gas prices are draining the budgets of those who can least afford it. Many of my constituents have had to cut back on groceries, cancel family trips, or make other painful sacrifices. The CAR Payment program is about getting dollars back into their pockets.”
The proposed program would begin with an initial July payment for registered vehicle owners. Those same vehicle owners would then receive an annual check when they renew their vehicle tabs. The amount of the check is expected to vary depending upon how much the state has collected above its forecasts since 2021 (when the CCA was enacted).
According to Connors, the Department of Ecology is not expected to update revenue projections to take into account the higher-than-expected auction prices until the end of 2023. At that time, a more realistic projection of the CAR Payment amounts will be developed.
The 2024 legislative session is scheduled to convene on Jan. 8, 2024.