Council opposes oil barrel tax 6-1

Published on Thu, Mar 4, 2010 by Tara Nelson

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Blaine City Council opposed a per-barrel fee for oil refineries in the state of Washington last week.

In their February 22 meeting, council voted 6-1 to oppose HB 1614, which, if passed, would have charged oil companies $1.50 per barrel of oil consumed in the state and raise nearly $120 million in revenue to help local governments pay for capital improvements and retrofits to address stormwater pollution.

The issue is now moot, however, as the bill failed to make it to the floor for a vote.

The resolution was at the request of Representative Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale) who said he had concerns about keeping jobs in the state.

Proponents of the bill include the Association of Washington Cities and the city of Bellingham.

A majority of Blaine City Council members said they were concerned the new fee would impose the equivalent of a four-cent hike in gasoline prices at the pump and that it could hurt already-struggling families.

Charlie Hawkins, the only dissenting vote, said he favored the fee because it would keep taxpayers from having to pay for environmental cleanup projects in the future that were borne by oil production. “The public will pay for this in the long-run,” he said.

Now, legislators have proposed HB 3181, which would increase the state’s “hazardous substance” tax from 0.7 percent to 2 percent.

Blaine city manager Gary Tomsic said staff will present a similar resolution opposing that bill at their next meeting.