State legislatures across New England and the greater U.S. Northeast region have already seen a number of carbon tax bills proposed in 2019. These bills seek to limit carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by imposing a monetary penalty on each ton emitted by fuels and electricity. Such taxes would lead to increases in the costs of heating oil, diesel fuel, propane and gasoline. These cost increases would inevitably be passed on to the consumer and gravely threaten, if not completely eliminate, the markets for these fuels. When a similar tax increase caused gasoline prices to spike in France last year, it led to national unrest, including the “yellow vests movement,” which succeeded in forcing the government to delay tax hikes slated to take effect January 1.
A website has been launched at stopthecarbontax.weebly.com to track the progress of carbon tax legislation in the U.S. Northeast, as well as that of a national carbon tax proposed in Congress late last year. The website also documents the cost effects that would result from each bill if enacted.
In Connecticut, H.B. 5365, “An Act for Establishing a Carbon Price for Fossil Fuels Sold in Connecticut” was proposed in February 2018 and will likely serve as the basis for a similar bill in 2019. It was defeated last year and in 2017, though the political landscape in Connecticut has since shifted considerably. The previously proposed Connecticut carbon tax would start at $15 per ton of CO2 and increase by $5/ton every year thereafter. This would cost Connecticut consumers approximately 16.8 cents per gallon in the first year, 39.2 cents/gallon in the fifth year and 67.20 cents/gallon in year 10.
In New Hampshire, H.B. 375, “An Act Relating to Carbon Pricing” was proposed on January 30, 2019. The bill would assess a carbon tax on fuels and electricity starting at $20 per ton of CO2 in 2020, increasing by $10 per year plus inflation through 2029, then by inflation only in 2030 and thereafter. It is estimated that this bill would increase a New Hampshire household’s annual heating oil costs by $134 in 2020, $358 in 2025, $538 in 2030 and $806 in 2035.
In Maine, H.P. 343, “An Act to Price Carbon Pollution in Maine,” was proposed on January 29, 2019. It would impose a carbon tax of $5 per metric ton of CO2 (a metric ton is 1.102 times heavier than a U.S. ton), increasing $5 per year until it reaches $40/metric ton in year eight, then remaining at that level thereafter. This would cost the average heating oil household in Maine an additional $40.65 in year one, $203.27 in year five, and $325.23 in year eight.
Not yet listed on the Stop the Carbon Tax website as of press time are two carbon tax bills introduced in Massachusetts: S.B. 1817, “An Act to combat climate change,” and H.B. 2370, “An Act to promote green infrastructure and reduce carbon emissions.” In a recent newsletter, Massachusetts Energy Marketers Association (MEMA) President Michael Ferrante wrote, “Both these bills pose a significant threat to the heating oil industry and MEMA will be asking members to join in the association’s efforts to defeat these measures along with other bills.”
Oil & Energy will continue to track and report on these and other carbon tax bills as they come up for consideration in 2019.