Republicans rap Democrat ‘gas tax’; price of gasoline, home heat could go way up

Updated: Apr. 28, 2021 at 5:15 PM EDT
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ALBANY, N.Y. (WWNY) - A proposal from the Democratic majority in the New York state legislature would likely send the cost of a gallon of gas up considerably.

Heating your home would get more expensive as well.

The bill now making its way through the legislature would raise $15 billion for environmental issues - helping fund green energy projects and assisting communities already struggling with the effects of climate change.

The money would come from an extra tax, a surcharge, imposed on energy companies. If the companies passed the tax onto consumers, experts estimate it would increase the cost of a gallon of gas by 55 cents, and raise the price of home heat by about 25 percent.

“New Yorkers are dying every single day because of climate change and pollution,” the group New York Renews, which supports the measure, said in a statement.

“Any cost increase is a clear and deliberate choice to punish New Yorkers, not the natural result of enacting necessary climate policy. "

The bill is deeply unpopular among upstate Republicans, who railed against it this week. They cited the cold winters upstate and the fact that most people rely on their own vehicles for transportation.

“It’s just a bad idea. It makes no sense. There’s really no reason for something like this,” said Joe Griffo, Republican state senator from the 47th District, which takes in part of the north country.

It is possible to use taxation to discourage the use of carbon-based fuels, in the same way that high taxes on cigarettes are designed to reduce smoking. But Ulrik Boesen from the Tax Foundation said there’s an important caveat.

“Adding an additional $15 billion on top of already very high taxes would severely increase the cost of living in New York,” he said.

“If the intent here is to focus on carbon emissions, levy a tax on that, hopefully see reduced carbon emissions, that can be legitimate. We need to offset the cost somewhere else because otherwise you’re just piling on.”

A spokeswoman for New York Renews said under the bill the legislature is considering, many New Yorkers would be eligible for a roughly $1,100 rebate.

It’s not clear whether there are enough votes to pass the bill this year, though Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said “stay tuned” when asked last week about whether the bill - formally known as the Climate and Community Investment Act - could pass this year.

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