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Gas prices dropping as summer approaches

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(The Center Square) – Fuel prices typically surge as summer approaches because of supply and demand.

Higher temperatures – along with kids being home from school – means increased traveling, which in turn leads to greater demand for gasoline. Also, the summer blend of gas – uniquely designed to not evaporate as quickly in warmer weather – is more expensive than the winter blend.

But in Washington state and across the nation, the cost of gas is bucking that trend by going down.

“Nationwide, demand for gasoline has been down in comparison to 2023, which is reflected in the price of gas, and Washington is following suit,” Mellani McAleenan, senior manager of public affairs at AAA, emailed The Center Square Friday. “The average price for gas in Washington is down 7 cents from last week, 28 cents from a month ago, and almost 50 cents (0.486) from this time last year.”

Americans are not traveling as much this year as they usually do, she pointed out.

“Gas prices tend to trend upward as more people hit the road during the summer, but so far, this year, it doesn’t appear to be the case,” McAleenan explained. “Some experts are speculating about whether summer driving season is a thing of the past, given that demand numbers are really lagging, but it’s also possible that we’re just off to a slow start, and demand could pick up soon.”

She predicted prices would continue to drop in the short term before inching back up again later in the summer.

“We anticipate that prices will continue to drop over the next several weeks before settling until hurricane season picks up in late July and August when refineries in the south could be affected by extreme weather conditions,” McAleenan said.

Gas prices remain a hot-button election issue in the Evergreen State. This November, voters will decide on Initiative 2117, which would prohibit state agencies from implementing a cap-and-trade program.

I-2117 would repeal the 2021 Climate Commitment Act, which allows polluting businesses to buy carbon offsets as part of a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 95% by 2050. Critics contend carbon auctions have added between 40 and 50 cents to the cost of a gallon of gas.

Other possible factors could be playing a role in the atypical drop in pre-summer gas prices.

The administration of President Joe Biden announced last month that it plans to release 1 million barrels of gas from a Northeast reserve in a move to ease prices at the pump for motorists.

Oil prices, which heavily impact gas prices, surged nearly $2 a barrel on Monday to their highest settlement levels in more than a month. In other words, oil prices have been cooling off overall until recently.

Larry Behrens, communications director with the energy advocacy organization Power The Future, said low gas prices are not all they’re cracked up to be at the moment.

“Even when it’s seemingly good news of gas prices going down, it’s still bad news for working families because of Joe Biden‘s energy policies,” he emailed The Center Square. “The underlying driver of this price drop is due to lessening demand because working families can’t afford as much in this difficult economy. Joe Biden declared war on American energy from his first day in office, and now the result is working families are cutting back on driving, summer vacations, and other things they enjoyed just four years ago.”

Summer officially begins on Thursday.

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