Conan Nolan/Scott Spiro
A new carbon tax proposed by a leading California Senate Democrat would increase gas prices at the pump by 15 cents a gallon as a way to combat climate change. But the measure is meeting opposition by those who favor taxing oil companies rather than customers. Conan Nolan reports from Downtown LA for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 21, 2014.
Gas prices in California will likely be higher next year in an effort to fight climate change.
A so-called "carbon tax" on oil companies is expected to go into effect in 2015, as companies will be required to pay for the greenhouse gases they release in the air. The companies have reportedly said that this tax would affect prices at the pump. A new proposal presented Friday by State Senate leader Darrell Steinberg, however, would eliminate the carbon tax on oil companies and instead tax consumers directly.
Steinberg proposed that the state increase the price at the pump by 15 cents a gallon starting in 2015. That number would increase to 43 cents a gallon in 2030.
"Higher prices discourage demand. if carbon pricing doesn't sting, at least a little bit, we won't change our habits," Steinberg said.
Steinberg believes that the tax will force people to not drive as much, and in turn, decrease the amount of carbon pollution.
"Let me be clear, we have no choice. We must reduce the amount of carbon we put into the air, and that will come with a price," Steinberg said. "Nothing is free."
The revenue generated by this proposal would be used toward mass transit and to give each family in the state making under $75,000 a year a tax credit of at least $600, according to Steinberg.
Steinberg’s bill faces opposition, however, including from fellow Democrats.
"Letting oil companies play by different rules than other polluters would undermind all progress we have made on climate change…it is not fair force drivers to pay and let oil companies off the hook," Sen. Fran Pavely of Agoura Hills said in a statement.
Gov. Jerry Brown has said that taxes on Californians are already high enough and has hinted at vetoing any new tax legislation.