Legislation to protect farmers from increased fuel prices potentially driven by the Climate Commitment Act (CCA) was introduced in the Washington State Senate by Sen. Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah), vice chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, and Sen. Joe Nguyễn (D-White Center), chair of the Senate Environment, Energy, & Technology Committee. SB 5766 would establish a remittance program for farmers and haulers of agricultural products who could face rising fuel costs, based on the auction prices of carbon permits.

“When we passed the Climate Commitment Act, we made a promise to Washington’s farmers to protect them from additional costs that could potentially be passed on from the bill. We need to keep that promise,” said Mullet. “We hoped this was going to be addressed in implementation, but we heard clearly in budget hearings that this issue still needs to be addressed. This bill is a small, reasonable step that keeps our promise to our farmers while still sustaining the climate investments that the CCA is funding.”

“As Washington works toward a green future, we must be mindful of the impacts that these transitions have on our communities,” said Nguyễn. “Our farmers are critical contributors to our economy and they are being unfairly targeted by big oil companies. It was always our intention to exempt their fuel from the CCA guidelines and this legislation affirms our commitment to them as we transition into a cleaner, greener economy.”

The bill would require the state to set up a remittance program by Jan. 1, 2024, for farm fuel users and freight haulers of agricultural products. Users would have the opportunity to submit receipts on a quarterly basis showing the purchases for fuel used for farming and for transporting agricultural products, and would be eligible for a remittance equal to the price of a ton of carbon at the most recent CCA auction, multiplied by eight-tenths of one percent, for each gallon of fuel claimed in the remittance application.

The bill would additionally establish a workgroup to review and make recommendations on exemptions to the CCA and on the remittance program for agricultural users.

The first CCA auctions in late February of 2023 raised $299 million, and auctions occur quarterly. The program is expected to raise nearly $2 billion per biennium, and the revenue raised is being used to help reduce emissions in Washington’s economy, create jobs in green industries, and reduce the effects of pollution on overburdened communities.