The state of Rhode Island is facing a new threat from forces outside of and within the state that are working to make the Ocean State the first to impose a carbon tax upon its citizens. Such a tax will have a crippling impact on the affordability of energy within the state and will hurt Rhode Island’s most vulnerable citizens.
The issue of a carbon tax has been raised by misguided lawmakers and environmental extremists in recent years with efforts targeting multiple states, such as Vermont and Washington. The effort in Rhode Island, led by a special interest group called Energize Rhode Island emerged earlier this year when State Representative Aaron Regunberg (D-Providence) introduced H. 7325. This bill, titled Energize Rhode Island: Clean Energy Investment and Carbon Pricing Act of 2016, will impose an additional fee on natural gas, gasoline, and other energy commodities.
Listed below are the top reasons why lawmakers and residents in Rhode Island should oppose a carbon tax:
- Increased gas prices. The proposed legislation would add an additional tax of 15 cents per gallon of gas. This is a 50 percent increase on the current tax applied to gasoline in Rhode Island, which currently ranks as one of the top ten states with the highest gas tax.
- Skyrocketing energy prices. According to a study by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) a carbon tax would increase the cost of using natural gas upwards of 40 percent. Increasing energy costs in a state already ranked as having some of the highest energy costs in the country is simply bad policy, and would make it more expensive for citizens to cook food and heat their homes.
- Impact to Rhode Island’s Economy. Rhode Island is currently facing a deficit of over $150 million. According to the study conducted by NAM a carbon tax would result in a loss of worker income equivalent to 2,000 to 5000 jobs. This loss of income would lead to growing budget deficits and worsen the state’s economic health.
- Negative impact on Rhode Island’s most vulnerable. Raising the prices for natural gas and gasoline hurts lower income households the most because of their reliance on cheap energy and products. Low to middle income households spend a larger portion of their monthly income on energy costs and a state carbon tax would only increase that burden.
If implemented the carbon tax will have a devastating impact on the citizens of Rhode Island, a state ranked the 5th worst in the country for taxpayer burden. This tax does nothing but hurt lower income families and further burdens the residents of Rhode Island.
If H. 7325 passes in Rhode Island it could have a domino effect and lead to other states adopting a similar tax, thus resulting in the skyrocketing of energy prices for every American. Lawmakers and voters in Rhode Island should oppose such misguided carbon tax legislation that will only impact the most vulnerable citizens and reduce the state’s competitiveness
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