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Guest column: Carbon tax leaves few choices for trucking

LANGLEY, B. C. - Sifting through B. C.'s 2008-09 budget reveals that the trucking industry isn't getting much for the carbon tax that we're going to be paying. By 2012, the carbon tax on diesel fuel w...


LANGLEY, B. C. – Sifting through B. C.’s 2008-09 budget reveals that the trucking industry isn’t getting much for the carbon tax that we’re going to be paying. By 2012, the carbon tax on diesel fuel will be 8.2 cents per litre or at least $270 million per year.

That’s on top of the up to 25 cents per litre that is already being collected by the province. This will make diesel tax in B. C. three times more expensive than Alberta and twice as high as any other province.

Yes, some of that will be returned in the form of reductions in other tax rates – personal, corporate and small business. And, there will be a sales tax exemption for one category of fuel-efficiency enhancing device. But the trucking industry will still be a big net tax payer in this “revenueneutral” endeavour.

The trucking industry doesn’t need a tax to know that it should be fuel-efficient.

Common and business sense told us that a long time ago, particularly since fuel is our second highest expense after labour.

For most trucking companies, that means 15 to 30% of operating costs.

For individuals who own and operate their own truck, it could be up to 50%.

What the provincial government should have done – and still can do – is to use some of that tax revenue to help the industry to adopt new technologies that will further improve fuel efficiency. Most of those technologies – like anti-idling devices and low rolling-resistance tires – are addons or options.

Similarly, we need to invest in more expensive smog-free trucks. The trucking industry – made up of thousands of one-and twotruck operators – needs that tax money back to help buy this equipment.

The most perplexing thing about the carbon tax on diesel is that it’s 15% higher than the tax on gasoline.

Does it make sense to tax trucking more than other road users who often have other transportation choices like carpooling or transit?

The irony is that overtaxing our industry will make it that much more difficult for us go “green.”

– Paul Landry is president and CEO of the B. C. Trucking Association.


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