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Washington farmers, truckers demand carbon tax exemption be enforced

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(The Center Square) – The Washington Farm Bureau and Washington Trucking Associations say they have been paying higher fuel prices in a carbon pricing scheme where they should receive exemptions.

The WFB and WTA filed a Petition for Review to the Department of Ecology in response to the Climate Commitment Act. They argue that while the law exempts farm-user fuel, farmers and truckers are paying higher prices because of it.

The farmers and truckers are unhappy with what they argue is an unfair sales tax exemption process for diesel, biodiesel, and other fuels for agricultural use. The state offers agricultural exemption certificates, but the farmers and truckers take issue with the process.

“Under Ecology’s rules, suppliers are not required to segregate (i) farm fuel used for agricultural purposes; or (ii) fuels used for transporting agricultural products on public highways, including waterways, from CCA coverage as is required by the statute,” the WFB and WTA wrote in the letter. “Instead, segregation of agricultural-related fuel is optional and which—if exercised—still requires proof to Ecology’s satisfaction. Moreover, the exemption certificate is meaningless as fuel suppliers and distributors continue to add CCA- related costs onto the price of exempt fuel, and the State of Washington continues to reap the revenue from such charges.”

The CCA requires emitters to get an “emissions allowance” equal to their greenhouse gas emissions. Businesses can obtain these allowances through quarterly auctions hosted by the Department of Ecology.

Since the CCA took effect, fuels used for agricultural purposes have increased in price by $0.45 to $0.70 per gallon, according to the letter. Prices have increased fuel prices by $74 million thus far for farmers alone, the letter said. The farmers and truckers add that this hurts consumers, who are paying higher prices.

“For these reasons, WFB and WTA request that the Department open rulemaking to put in place (1) an adequate method to claim the exemptions set forth in RCW 70A.65.080(7)(e)(i)-(ii) on fuel before it is purchased, and (2) a process for the agricultural and transportation industries to be able to obtain refunds from the State for the overcharged amounts due to Ecology’s initial failure to put an adequate exemption system in place,” the letter said.

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