VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – As the British Columbia Utilities Commission moves forward with its review of soaring gas prices in the province, one expert says it looks like cutting provincial fuel taxes is not on the table – and he doesn’t think the review will accomplish much.
David Austin, an energy lawyer and analyst in Vancouver, says that’s because the best long-term option for getting gas prices down is building an oil refinery in B.C., Washington State, or even Alberta.
And Austin says that’s probably not going to happen.
“I can’t see anybody wanting to invest at least a billion [dollars] for a new refinery in British Columbia because you’ve got electric vehicles coming over the hill,” he says. “They’re in the market, they’re available, and they are a viable alternative to gasoline powered cars.”
Austin says while cutting fuel taxes is a popular idea, it would have consequences.
“That also would mean the government would receive less revenue from taxation, and then it wouldn’t have the money it needs for its programs and policies,” he says. “Effectively reducing taxes is off the table by the way the terms of reference were written. I’m not optimistic that you’ll see any changes in the price of gasoline in the Lower Mainland.”
The province has said they want the commission to focus on potential price fixing or gouging from oil companies. The commission has been asked to have the report ready by the end of August.