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State House strikes fuel export tax from Washington's $16 billion transportation bill

The tax was expected to generate $2 billion of the $16 billion package proposed to build everything from buses and bridges to a new fleet of ferries.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The State House of Representatives scrapped a six-cent per gallon export tax on fuel refined in Washington after the proposal sparked outcry from lawmakers, both in and out of state. 

The export tax was part of a $16 billion transpiration package passed by the House on March 2.

In effect, the tax would have charged out-of-state buyers an additional six cents per gallon on fuel refined in Washington to compensate for the greenhouse gas emissions produced by the five petroleum refineries within the state. 

The tax was expected to generate $2 billion of the $16 billion proposed to build everything from buses and bridges to a new fleet of ferries.

"These carbon emissions have a real impact on the citizens of the state of Washington and these impacts are not adequately compensated for under the existing tax structures," the original bill read. 

Lawmakers in Oregon, Idaho and Alaska pushed back on the proposal. One Alaska representative even threatened to propose retaliatory taxes on fish caught in Alaskan waters, Washington boats moored in Alaskan harbors and crude oil shipped from Alaska into Washington state. 

The governors of Oregon and Idaho both reached out to Gov. Jay Inslee asking him to veto the tax.

Chair of the House Transporation Committee Jake Fey introduced an amendment striking the six-cent export tax in late February. The proposal replaced the tax with an annual transfer of $100 million from the state's public works assistance account. The amendment was adopted on March 1.

"We heard from our Pacific Northwest neighbors and from the people of Washington that this part of the package wasn't going to work," Fey said in a statement. "It came through loud and clear that the best path to move ahead together included a reasonable, workable alternative that takes the pressure off workers and other states."

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