Washington fuel prices up 73 cents this year after 14 weeks of price hikes

Washington fuel prices up 73 cents this year after 14 weeks of price hikes. Photo courtesy Colleen Michaels
Washington fuel prices up 73 cents this year after 14 weeks of price hikes. Photo courtesy Colleen Michaels

As of Jan. 1 of this year, Washingtonians are paying for a new cap-and-trade system

Timothy Schumann
The Center Square Washington

The average price of a gallon of regular unleaded was $4.57 statewide on Monday, up from $4.50 a week before, according to AAA data. Washingtonians are paying for three months of fuel price increases this calendar year following the implementation of a carbon tax earlier this year.

This 7 cents per gallon increase moved opposite the national average, which fell from $3.67 per gallon to $3.66 per gallon, a 1 cent per gallon decrease over the same time period.

“The recent surge in oil costs took a break this week, with the price of oil tumbling back into the upper $70s per barrel,” AAA spokesperson Andrew Gross said in a statement. “If this oil price trend continues, drivers may see falling gas prices.”

While that oil price may be reflected in the slight one-cent per gallon decrease nationally, residents of the Evergreen State are paying more than most. Washington’s pump prices currently stand at the fourth most expensive nationally. Only California, Hawaii, and Arizona are pricier.

Washington’s $4.57 per gallon places it 91 cents per gallon higher than the national average of $3.66 per gallon. It is also $1.44 per gallon more than what Mississippi residents – the nation’s least expensive fuel cost of $3.13 per gallon – pay.

Washington intra-state variance remains high at $1.33 per gallon, down 2 cents per gallon from last week. San Juan and Asotin counties had the most and least expensive gas prices in the state, at $5.16 and $3.83 per gallon.

Residents to the west of the Cascade range continue to pay higher premiums at the pump.

As of Jan. 1 of this year, Washingtonians are paying for a new cap-and-trade system.

“The first auction of CO2 allowances [averaged] $48.50 per metric ton of CO2. This equates to about 39 cents per gallon of gasoline and 47 cents per gallon of diesel,” announced a report by the Washington Policy Center based on recently released Washington State Department of Ecology data.

This report was first published by The Center Square Washington.

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  1. mimsy

    I need an article explaining how the CO2 credits paid by private industry raise the state fuel prices? When looking at the first auctions list of buyers you will see 90% of the companies have nothing to do with fuel extraction, refining, or delivery. Washington policy centers idiot Todd Meyers did some apple and orange math claiming the $48.5/metric ton of CO2 equates to $0.39/gallon price hike… However Washington Policy center assumed that private industry will pass the cost onto the consumer through increase in gas prices. How can private industry raise the price of a global commodity they have no interest in or do not sell to the consumer? University of Washington and Washington State University both participated in carbon auction… How can they pass these costs onto consumers at the pump? PLEASE EXPLAIN THIS.

    1. John Ley

      Mimsy — perhaps you can research and write a column on CO2 credits. I would imagine Clark County Today would publish it.

      Washington state has 5 refineries that provide gasoline to our state, to much of Oregon and Alaska, and a little bit to Idaho. They initially didn’t know what the price of the carbon credits would be, since the first auction didn’t occur until February, but the state was going to charge them the tax, back to January.

      So the refineries began raising the price they charged for their refined products in January. They knew they were going to have to pay, but didn’t know how much. They have continued to raise the price, as the article notes, until they cover their costs.

      Do you have any proof or news articles indicating the refineries are NOT passing the cost on to their customers? If so, I would love to read it.

      What we do know is that the price of gas and diesel fuel in Washington has risen significantly since January. We can go to websites like AAA that track gas prices nationally, and see that “generally” gas and diesel prices have declined around the nation over the same time.

    2. Anthony

      I can’t find who actually bought credits in the first auction but BP, Cheveron, Phillips 66 and Shell are all listed as bidders. https://apps.ecology.wa.gov/publications/documents/2302022.pdf
      I’m not sure why it’s hard to understand how this increases the cost of gas. If it use to cost me $1 to produce a gallon of gas and I need to make 10% profit to cover overhead then I can sell it for $1.10 per gallon. I now have to pay a 10 cent carbon tax so my cost to produce a gallon is now $1.10. In order to make my 10% profit I now have to sell it for $1.21.


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