Higher price at pump proposed for taxing carbon emissions

West Virginia

FALLING WATERS, W.Va. (WDVM) — It’s a showdown on Capitol Hill, but it has big implications for West Virginia: a proposed carbon fuels tax.

It’s one of the big stumbling blocks to a deal on a federal spending package to keep the government running. To fight climate change and fund a green energy infrastructure, senior Democrats in Congress want to hike the gas tax per gallon by 14 cents. What do motorists in the eastern panhandle think?

“I definitely think that changing to green energy will be the best outcome for the future, especially in cars and everything, but raising taxes may not be the right way to get there,” said Marco Azzani of Falling Waters, West Virginia.

Azzani is an engineering student at Shepherd University. He wants a cleaner environment but agrees with West Virginia U.S. Senator Joe Manchin that getting there is a process that will take time and patience. But some in the region say more pennies at the pump and higher utility rates are the way to achieve cleaner air and water.

“I’m okay with it,” said James Merewitz of Berkeley County. “I mean, 14 cents a gallon’s a small price to pay for something that can better the environment.”

Supporters of the tax in the Nation’s Capital say the revenue generated can approach a $1 trillion. What it will take to switch from coal and natural gas to renewable energy. As Azzani sees it, no need to slam on the accelerator.

“I feel they should move to a more gradual approach, not forcing people to change to electric cars right now. Especially when they’re not perfected yet. There’s still the problem of like renewed lithium batteries and it’s a bit rushed right now,” said Azzani.

Rural states like West Virginia would especially feel the pinch, not just because of its coal and natural gas production, but options for mass transit are limited.

The tax showdown is expected in the next 48 hours or so. The bill would impose penalties on utilities which fail to meet renewable energy targets. That provision has drawn opposition from Senator Manchin.

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