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OFM Says Another Week Needed for Low-Carbon Fuels Analysis

The Washington state Office of Financial Management is pushing back the release of a key economic analysis on a potential low-carbon fuels standard.

OFM says it needs another week to wrap up the analysis, which is tentatively scheduled to be issued Oct. 27, said Jim Cahill, a senior budget assistant to Gov. Jay Inslee, on Monday morning. A portion of the study was issued Sept. 29 that gauged the technical feasibility of a low-carbon fuels standard.

Cahill said OFM and its consultant on the study, Life Cycle Associates, need to run new figures because earlier this month the state Department of Transportation came out with new forecasts showing a long-term decline in the number of miles the state’s motorists will travel in the coming years.

Statewide, motorists drove 59.6 billion miles in fiscal year 2013, which is projected to grow slightly – at 0.4 percent annually – over the next five years before seeing a 0.4 percent decline each year from 2020 to 2043.

WSDOT’s modeling takes into account employment and vehicle-ownership trends since last year, as well as higher projections in the costs of fuel and other changes in the calculation methods.

Business interests have used a projected hike in the cost of gasoline due to a low-carbon fuels standard to argue that it could have a sweeping, negative impact on the state’s economy. The National Federation of Independent Businesses issued a study last week saying the standard would cost the state 11,000 jobs over a five-year period, based on an estimated increase of 90 cents to $1.16 in the price of a gallon of gasoline.

The Governor’s Office has taken issue with those projections, saying the math used to calculate them is faulty, and state consultant estimates only a 6 cent to 8 cent hike in gasoline prices would result from a low-carbon fuels standard.


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