Maine would see 40 cent per gallon increase in gas & heating oil with carbon tax

Rep. Deane Rykerson (D – Kittery) is the sponsor of a proposal that would add about 40 cents per gallon to the cost of gasoline and heating oil over the next eight years. Rykerson hopes Governor Janet Mills will support the proposal.

Augusta – Mainers would see 40 cent per gallon increases in gasoline and heating oil taxes under a proposal that will be considered by the Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee on Thursday, February 28th.

The proposal, an effort to stem carbon emissions in Maine, begins by pricing a broad group of fuels, including home heating oil, gasoline, kerosene and others at $5 “per ton” of emissions created by consumption of the fuel, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Then, each year for the next eight years, the price increases by $5 “per ton” of carbon emissions.

The non-profit group Maine People Before Politics said in a statement that the bill would ultimately result in taxes of about 40 cents per gallon being forced on Maine taxpayers, with the goal of providing “rebates” with CMP and Emera.

L.D. 434 is titled “An Act To Price Carbon Pollution in Maine” and is sponsored by Rep. Deane Rykerson (D – Kittery), who admitted in a news conference introducing the bill that it will cause gasoline and heating oil prices to increase.

Speaker Sara Gideon (D – Freeport) attended that press conference to support Rep. Rykerson, providing a glimpse of the bill’s support in the House chamber.

Many are concerned about the hardship the tax increase would impose on rural Mainers and those with lower incomes, who already struggle to make ends meet in Maine’s cold winters.

The proposal will be heard just following Governor Janet Mills’ announcement that additional funds would be released to help low-income Mainers pay for heating fuel.

There are no current estimates related to how Maine’s LIHEAP program would be impacted by Rykerson’s proposal, but because the tax would be applied at the wholesale level and passed on to consumers, it is unlikely low-income or LIHEAP recipients would escape the tax.

Some estimates calculated from the proposal determined that some rural Mainers that commute could be forced to pay an additional $35 to $60 per week for gas and heating oil when the tax is fully implemented.

Maine’s carbon emissions rank as the 6th lowest of the fifty states according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and Maine had the largest percentage drop in carbon emissions from energy from 2000 to 2015, reducing carbon emissions by 25%, or 6 million metric tons.

Maine’s overall carbon emissions are an almost immeasurable fraction of global carbon emissions.

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