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Environment

California’s Newest Gas Tax: State Fights Rising Costs by Raising Costs

San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond has called the move “inconceivable,” as Californians already pay more at the pump than residents of any other state. 

If there is one thing for which California is known beyond its sunny shores and bustling cities, it’s exorbitant gas prices. In roughly two months’ time, those prices are set to rise even further due to a recent increase to the state’s excise gas tax.

On July 1st, the increase of two cents per gallon will go into effect, bringing the new tax total to about 60 cents per gallon. The move is purportedly aimed at curbing inflation. But the irony of the state raising costs to combat raising costs is not lost on constituents.

“The last thing [Californians] need is another increase to the gas tax,” said Congressman Kevin Kiley before the U.S. House of Representatives. “I am calling on state lawmakers to stop this gas tax increase. And, as a matter of fact, what they should really do is suspend the gas tax entirely.” He acknowledged that Californians would still pay among the highest rates in the nation, but it “would provide folks throughout our state with relief that they very much need.”

“It is inconceivable that the State of California is once again increasing the Gas Tax,” stated San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond in a video posted to Twitter/X. “We’ve already got expensive energy costs here in California. People are struggling.”

Indeed, Californians have already been paying more at the pump than residents of any other state. According to data compiled by CalMatters’ Lynn La, the average comes out to “$5.34 a gallon for regular unleaded, compared to the national average of $3.64, according to AAA.” Sadly, in other counties “the sticker shock is even worse — $6.80 in Alpine, $6.29 in Mono and $5.85 in Humboldt, for example.”

La also acknowledges that the state’s decision to switch to a more expensive fuel blend, one which allegedly reduces ozone emissions, and the dramatic decline of oil refineries in the state due to increased costs have all contributed to pain at the pump. “It’s two to three times more expensive to run a refinery in California than anywhere else in the world. It comes to a point where it becomes uneconomic,” said Western States Petroleum Association President and CEO Catherine Reheis-Boyd. 

The common thread between all of these components is bad policy and a State Legislature that is largely controlled by the environmental lobby—emboldened to harm its own energy sector and pass costs off to consumers in exchange for backing and capital.

As such, it’s unsurprising that the increased gas tax has drawn sharp criticism from constituents. Some critics argue that the hostility against fossil fuels is part of a larger tactic to push more drivers toward electric vehicles and ultimately phase out gas-powered cars—an explicit priority of Governor Gavin Newsom’s agenda. While Californians prepare for the impact the tax increase will have on their wallets, Newsom is preparing to travel to the Vatican to speak at a climate summit later this month.

One wonders what type of fuel will be used in the jet that will take him there.

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