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Multi-State Proposal Could Hike Gasoline Prices To Benefit Non-Fossil Fuel Transportation Alternatives

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Carbon emissions from gasoline-powered vehicles are such an environmental problem that 11 states, including Pennsylvania, have created the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) to develop ways to reduce that pollution.

But TCI's latest idea is getting pushback for raising gasoline prices.

"They say anywhere from 10 to 20 cents a gallon, and usually when they say 10 or 20 cents a gallon, it usually ends up to be more," Don Bowers, vice president of the Pennsylvania Petroleum Association, told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Monday.

The recent plan would require wholesalers of gasoline and diesel in participating states to buy carbon credits to sell their fuel, the cost of which would be passed on to consumers.

"That's just ridiculous," noted Bowers.

But environmentalists say we already pay in higher medical bills.

"We're going to pay one way or the other," says Matt Mehalik, executive director of Breathe Project, a consortium of several dozen environmental groups.

"It's better to pay some money and have it be deployed in a smart way and save overall $10 billion from reduced public health costs."

The money paid by the wholesalers could be used to support public transit, bike trails and electric vehicle charging stations, as determined by each state.

But so far, Pennsylvania is non-committal about the plan.

"While we are committed to being a part of the TCI conversations, we are not yet supportive and will not make any decisions until the program is fully designed, modeling results are complete and we get input from interested communities, businesses and other stakeholders," the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection told KDKA in a statement.

"The [Wolf] administration is not supportive of raising the gas tax."

Now none of this is going to happen quickly.

The public has until the end of February to comment on this proposal, and then if the state of Pennsylvania decides to opt in, nothing is expected to begin until sometime in 2022.

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