Dan Walters

Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
Published: Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014 – 10:33 pm
Last Modified: Friday, Feb. 21, 2014 – 12:01 am

Darrell Steinberg, the president pro tem of the state Senate who will leave the position and the Legislature later this year, proposed Thursday that gasoline taxes be increased sharply to fight global warming and provide new financial support for low- and middle-income families.

But his plan could be dead on arrival, given the Capitol’s political dynamics and opposition from both left and right.

Steinberg, speaking to the Sacramento Press Club, offered the gas tax – about 15 cents a gallon and $3.6 billion a year to start and then rising over time – as an alternative to bringing the fuel industry under the state’s “cap-and-trade” fees aimed at lowering greenhouse gas emissions, now scheduled for 2015.

He argued that a “carbon tax” would be better because its effect on gasoline prices would be more predictable and its proceeds “will be used to alleviate the financial burden of carbon pricing among low- and middle-income families” with an earned income tax credit.

However, it’s already taking fire from environmentalists, such as the Environmental Defense Fund, as undermining the cap-and-trade program, and is certain to face opposition from Republicans, which would make it difficult for Steinberg to get the two-thirds votes in both legislative houses he would need.

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