New Study Shows Transportation and Climate Initiative Could Bump Gas Prices Up 38 Cents Per Gallon By 2022

Printed from:

How much would the Transportation and Climate Initiative carbon fee on fuel cost Bay Staters at the pump?

A new report suggests more than previously thought.

Initial estimates said the TCI could add five to 17 cents per gallon onto the cost of gasoline and diesel. That figure came from a study conducted by the 12 states plus the District of Columbia eyed as partners in the initiative, which is billed as combatting climate change.

However, The Center for State Policy Analysis (CSPA) at Tufts University says the actual cost increase could be more than double that.

A recent study found that by 2022, the carbon fee could increase the cost of gas and diesel by 38 cents per gallon if enacted.

It’s a price the National Federation for Independent Business Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance say is too high for Bay Staters.

Both organizations have opposed the TCI since last year — back when the worst-case-scenario was thought to be less than half of the cost Tufts projected.

Christopher Carlozzi, the Massachusetts State Director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, said the higher cost once again shows the negative consequences of the proposal.

“The notion of adding 17 cents a gallon in TCI taxes to fuel costs was frightening enough, but a whopping 38 cents would be outright devastating,” Carlozzi told New Boston Post in an email message. “Massachusetts small businesses have faced every hurdle and obstacle imaginable in 2020 and this is certainly not the time to dramatically increase the price of fuel. If the cost of gasoline and diesel increases, it means the price of goods and services will rise as well. New TCI taxes won’t just impact small businesses attempting to recover from the pandemic but also hurts those commuters and working families who were forced to tighten their household budgets too.”

Paul Craney, spokesman for the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, said the fuel fee would disproportionately affect lower-income Massachusetts residents.

“TCI has always been an elitist regressive gas tax scheme and the ultimate winners would be unelected bureaucratic from MA,” Craney told New Boston Post in an email message. “They would take money away from working people to subsidize electric vehicles, the vehicle of choice of the affluent. Today’s study by CSPA shows the scheme comes at a very high economic cost, and a similar study by the Beacon Hill Institute showed it has almost no environmental benefit.

“The Reason Foundation released their annual highway report today, and found that Massachusetts’s highway system ranks 47 in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition,” he added. “This is a one-spot decline from 2019. It’s clear the TCI scheme would subside MA transportation spending by other states considering joining the scheme.”

Craney said the state government should spend its highway and infrastructure dollars more efficiently rather than extracting more money from the taxpayers.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker supports the TCI initiative but has backed off pursuing it in recent months amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m still very much a fan, but as I said yesterday in answer to another question, there’s a lot that’s changed about transportation generally over the course of the past eight months, and that stuff’s got to get baked into the way people model what this would mean and how it would work going forward for them,” Baker told State House News Service on Wednesday.

The proposed pact would have states charge fees to fuel providers based on carbon emissions. That funding would then go to funding public transportation; the idea behind it is to reduce the number of cars on the road and therefore reduce carbon emissions.

Although Baker remains a supporter of it, other New England governors have expressed skepticism, including Republicans Phil Scott of Vermont and Chris Sununu of New Hampshire as well as Democrats Ned Lamont of Connecticut and Janet Mills of Maine, as New Boston Post has previously reported.