LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Motorists better take advantage of the historically low gas prices they have been enjoying recently, because that trend will end come New Year's Day.
On Jan. 1, gas and diesel fuel will be subject to California's cap and trade market because of a law passed in 2010. The program puts a price on the emissions coming out of drivers' tailpipes.
"The transportation sector is responsible for about 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in California. They're also responsible for at least 90 percent of the air pollutions in the state," said Dave Clegern, spokesman for the California Air Resources Board.
The agency estimates the gas fee increase will be at most 10 cents a gallon – but the Western States Petroleum Association believes the spike could be as much as 76 cents a gallon.
"All we know is that motorists will be paying more after Jan. 1. How much they pay is hard to say at this point," Auto Club spokesman Jeffrey Spring said.
Critics of the cap and trade program say Californians will see their money slipping away at the grocery store because everything bought at the market is shipped on trucks that use fuel – and that cost will get passed on to consumers.
"One economist said that they expect that's going to hurt each family accumulative by about $3,800 extra per year," Sen. Mike Morell, R-Rancho Cucamonga said.
Morell is the co-author of Senate Bill 5, which would put a halt on the gas fee until 2020. Money generated by the cap and trade program will fund projects like high-speed rail and the production of more fuel-efficient vehicles to combat climate change, which drivers like Sandra Parks isn't sold on.
Parks works in Pomona, but buys gas in Ontario because the 10 cents per gallon savings makes that much of a difference.
"I don't really know too much about climate change but I don't feel like we need to pay anything extra than what we're paying."
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