Connecticut has already been called one of the most taxed states in the country, and now some policymakers are looking to add yet another burdensome tariff to the books. This one, however, would hit homeowners particularly hard, by driving up fuel prices for the state’s 640,000-plus households heated by Oilheat or propane.
On July 26, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) released its draft 2017 Comprehensive Energy Strategy (CES). The draft proposes imposing a 5-cent “conservation tax” on each gallon of Oilheat or propane sold in the state. The goal is supposedly to help create a cheaper future for Connecticut’s residents and businesses, but the tax would put an unfair financial burden on approximately 48% of the state’s homes!
Citing gross government overreach, Connecticut State Senator Joe Markley (R-16) spoke out against the new tax, with a guest column in the August 7 New Haven Register titled “A new Connecticut tax on heating oil? Really?”
“February can be bleak enough in Connecticut without a big new charge on our heat, which will particularly hurt the hard-pressed middle class and seniors on a fixed income,” Markley wrote. He goes on to point out how DEEP’s justifications for the tax are short-sighted and hypocritical, in that they ignore how much Oilheat and propane customers already contribute to the state’s Energy Efficiency Fund through their electricity bills.
“Perhaps most significantly, DEEP neglects to recognize that gas and electricity are regulated utilities, whose prices are already controlled to reflect affordability,” Markley writes. “Oil and propane are provided by independent businesses, whose prices are set by the free-market. The service these dealers provide is considered so essential that it has been excluded from any taxation — until now.”
Markley calls on lawmakers who support such taxes to make their case in the legislature rather than allow unelected DEEP officials to dictate state policy. “It is past time that state agencies stop pushing for new charges on vital family expenses — in this instance, the very fuel that warms our hearths and homes,” he writes.
Oilheat and propane dealers and consumers who share such concerns are encouraged to attend and speak out at any of six public meetings being held in August and September. The final CES is scheduled for release in October/November 2017.