(The Center Square) – Washington state fuel prices are on the rise again, but despite the increase this week, California is still king when it comes to price at the pump, beating out the Evergreen State by 8 cents per gallon this week.
Unlike California, however, the price to gas up in the Evergreen State has risen nearly 30% since the new year following the implementation of the new cap and trade carbon tax legislation.
As of Monday, the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas in Washington is $4.99, up from $4.95 the week prior, according to AAA data. Per AAA, the average price of gas in California this week is $5.07 per gallon, up from $4.99 the week prior.
Washington’s 4-cent per gallon increase moved with the national average, which rose from $3.75 to $3.82 per gallon. This 7-cent per gallon increase over the last week is a slowdown from the previous week’s 16-cent per gallon increase.
Washington’s $4.99 per gallon is $1.17 per gallon higher than the national average of $3.82 per gallon. It is also $1.67 per gallon above the nation’s least expensive fuel cost of $3.32 per gallon, currently paid by Mississippi residents.
Intra-state variance in Washington remains high at $1.30 per gallon, down two cents per gallon from the week prior. The outliers this week are again San Juan and Asotin counties, representing the most and least expensive gas prices statewide at $5.59 and $4.29 per gallon, respectively.
This price variance still largely follows the Cascade Range, with residents to the west paying a higher premium at the pump than residents to the east.
Some experts think there’s a legislative component to the relatively high cost of Washingtonians’ fuel, as previously reported by The Center Square, citing the state’s cap and trade carbon tax program implemented on Jan. 1.
“They claimed the program would cost ‘pennies,’ but Washington’s consumers are now paying 50 cents per gallon for just the cap-and-trade program,” said Catherine Reheis-Boyd, Western States Petroleum Association president, in a statement to The Center Square.
One Democrat, Senator Mark Mullet, agrees this price is too high, having recently introduced state legislation to cap the price of these auctions.
Gov. Jay Inslee disagrees with Mullet on where the blame lies.
“No, they’re not passing [it] on,” replied Inslee during a recent press conference, suggesting none of the recent price increases have been due to the state’s new cap-and-invest policy.
Mike Faulk, the governor’s spokesperson, clarified Inslee’s remarks.
“The governor does not deny that the Climate Commitment Act’s cost impacts are likely more than the projections he based his past comments on. The projections did not anticipate the oil companies trying to pass along as much vaguely defined compliance cost onto the consumer,” said Faulk in an email to The Center Square.
The third carbon auction is still set to take place on Aug. 30 of this year, but prices in the second auction were high enough to triggered the Allowance Price Containment Reserve clause of the cap and trade law, adding an emergency fifth price containment auction of carbon shares taking place Wednesday.
Brett Davis contributed to this report.