One of the tax increase bills that is still afloat at our Legislature concerns the environmental response, energy and food security tax, which we refer to as the barrel tax. This tax started off as the environmental response tax, imposed at 5 cents a barrel of imported petroleum product as a way to create a fund for environmental cleanup in case of an oil spill in Hawaiian waters. It was hoisted to its present rate of $1.05 in 2009, and the difference was used not only to shore up our general fund, but also to feed various special funds that pay for environmental conservation programs, energy and food security, and related activities. As a result of all of the additional responsibilities placed upon the fund, it was given its new and much longer name. Now, faced with the prospect that Hawaiian Electric Industries will be fueling its power plants with liquefied natural gas instead of oil, our Legislature is thinking of extending the barrel tax to all forms of fossil fuel including coal and liquefied natural gas. The bill currently in the Legislature would impose tax at the “British thermal unit (BTU) equivalent” for energy generated by these other fossil fuels.