Opinion: Washington’s gas prices have increased between 35 and 52 cents per gallon since CO2 tax

Despite the clear data, state politicians and agency staff refuse to acknowledge the cost of the increases and aren’t helping residents deal with the impact of the costs.

Despite the clear data, state politicians and agency staff refuse to acknowledge the cost of the increases and aren’t helping residents deal with the impact of the costs

Todd Myers
Washington Policy Center

Depending on the comparison, Washington’s gas prices have increased between 35 and 52 cents more than neighboring states since the state launched a tax on CO2 emissions at the beginning of the year. Despite the clear data, state politicians and agency staff refuse to acknowledge the cost of the increases and aren’t helping residents deal with the impact of the costs.

Todd Myers
Todd Myers

This amount is in line with the results of the $48.50 per metric ton (MT) of CO2 price set at the state’s auction of emission allowances at the end of February. For gasoline with a 10% ethanol mix, $48.50 per MT CO2 amounts to 39 cents per gallon. As we noted previously, some fuel suppliers are charging more than that after they undercharged in January and February, before the actual price of CO2 allowances was set at auction.

There are several ways to calculate the change in prices since January. Perhaps the most straightforward is to use GasBuddy to compare the average prices of Regular gas in Washington and Oregon. As the graph shows, prices in the two states were very similar last year. In January the prices began to diverge suddenly. The difference went from about 3 cents per gallon at the end of the year to about 49 cents per gallon on April 17 – an increase of 46 cents per gallon. Comparing Washington to the average of Oregon and Idaho yields a similar result, an increase of about 52 cents per gallon in the difference since the beginning of the year.

We can compare that to AAA data. Since the beginning of the year, the difference between Washington’s gas prices and the average of Oregon and Idaho increased by about 44 cents per gallon.

We can also use the AAA data to compare Washington to other West Coast states, including California, Idaho, Nevada, and Oregon. Using that comparison, the gap between Washington’s gas prices and the West Coast has increased by about 35 cents per gallon since the beginning of the year.

Coming up with a perfect estimate of the impact of the tax on CO2 emissions is difficult because there are several factors impacting gas prices and prices in other states. Previously, we used the Energy Information Administration’s data to estimate the difference between Washington and other West Coast states minus California. That data set, however, has been heavily impacted by prices in Arizona which have skyrocketed since the beginning of the year, jumping by nearly $1.20 per gallon. No other state has seen anything close to that increase. It is unclear what is causing that increase, but the EIA dataset does not include gas prices for Arizona, making it impossible to adjust for this outlying trend.

Using AAA price data for the states in the EIA comparison – Alaska, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and Oregon – minus Arizona, yields a difference of 46 cents per gallon in Washington since the beginning of the year. Within the range of the others.

This real-world data are sharply at odds with the claims of staff at the Washington State Department of Ecology which continues to claim on the agency’s web page that “the potential impact on gas prices is expected to remain low – about 1% to 3% in 2023,” which would amount to between 4 and 12 cents per gallon. Apparently responding to our previous analysis, the same site also addresses the question, “Will the new climate policies result in a 46-cent-per-gallon increase in the gas tax starting in 2023,” answering with a direct “no.” The real-world data show, in fact, that is almost exactly where they are now.

Our projection of 46 cents per gallon was based on Ecology’s own analysis showing the cost of CO2 allowances would be $58.31 per MT of CO2 and using California’s methodology of applying that cost to the price of gasoline. Although the actual price of CO2 allowances in the first auction is below Ecology’s estimates, some fuel suppliers are now adding about that amount to compensate for only adding the equivalent of about $31 per MT of CO2 in January and February.

It is strange that the Department of Ecology continues to deny the evidence which includes real-world prices, actual invoices from fuel suppliers, and agreement by other states (including California and Oregon) that these policies increase gas prices. It is even more ridiculous when the express purpose of CO2 taxes is to increase gas prices and provide an incentive to use less gasoline and other CO2-emitting fuels.

And yet, the governor and staff at the Department of Ecology still blame everyone but themselves for rising gas prices.

This denial doesn’t stop families and businesses from dealing with the impacts of rising gas and energy prices. It does mean families can’t look to state government for help in addressing those prices.

Todd Myers is the director of the Center for the Environment at the Washington Policy Center.

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  1. W C Simmons

    All this money they are flushing down the climate change toilet is such a waste and an attack on every resident in Washington. All of it based on an unproven theory on so called climate change. Not a single prediction by anyone on what climate change was going to do has come true. Over 40% of climate scientist don’t believe it. There are other theories on what causes change done by universities in Europe and the US, but they are ignored. Scientists claim the earth has gone through climate change 7 times and not one was caused by man. This is nothing but a hoax. What they are doing will make no difference. We will not be able to measure any change. Then they will go to their next big lie, “It would have been worse if we had not done this. Total BS

    1. Dave

      Of the so called 60% of the scientists that supposedly do believe in “human caused climate change”, many only say they agree because of the funding they get which strongly influences their beliefs on the topic. If you say you believe, they will fund your research.

      1. MetaWorld2

        And right now these GLobalists are seeking to destroy EVERYthing they can to maintain their power! They MUST be stopped.
        How many people understand that for Earths Plantum, there needs to be plenty of CO2?
        Now I hear they are wanting to destroy Trees! THEN there goes the entire CO2’s contribution to The Plantum, and the cycles of PhotoSynthesis!

    2. MetaWorld2

      I totally agree! Thank you for speaking up. It is TOTALLY a HOAX! Just like CV-19. The ONLY Hope we have is to get TruthSeekers into the State Positions!
      As for our weather? Sorry to say. Its all about what THEY are doing!
      Study up http://www.geoengineeringwatch.org !

      THEY are controling and manipulating the weather all along! This goes back, even to The Viet Nam War; where they purposely flooded The Ho’h Che MenTrail, (sp?) to make it IMPASSABLE to The Viet Cong! Look it up! And then Wake Up!

  2. Susan

    Our power-drunk, liberal, progressive Fuhrer, jay insleez, and the majority demoncratic legislature are the ones DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE for increased gasoline prices.

    They are also the ones responsible for your soon to be smaller paycheck for longterm care that many will never be able to use.

    As long as this state remains deep blue, controlled 100% by democrats, and has a power-drunken progressive governor, these climate-change boogey-man money-sucking programs & policies will not only continue, they will increase in both numbers and the amount of money that tax payers will be required to cough up.

    This is money that could otherwise be used for clothes or food or new tires; it is money being taken directly from tax payers’ wallets.

    This state’s demoncratic fuhrer and demoncratic legislature are simply living in an alternate reality. They have completely lost touch with their constituents.

    Remember this when you go vote the next time.

    1. MetaWorld2

      Thank you Susan for straight up TRUTH! And this Truth is the ONLY thing that can set us free from this despotism!
      If only I could shake peoples Tell-A-Vision Controlled Minds!
      God help us all if people don’t WTH up!

  3. MetaWorld2

    PLEASE wake up people! Conservatives are the ONLY hope right now. Please do some homework so you understand this from a deep even Historic level!
    WE cannot continue on this way. PLEASE, Vote Conservative from now on out. If we/you dont? There will be grave consequences. I have never been more serious.
    The days of Freedom and For The People, for Democracy, no longer remains in The Liberal Party! Get Insley OUT! He has decayed in his seat now as governor, since 2012 !
    I used to BE a Liberal, until I realized how really dirty they are in how they play the game. RIGHT NOW? For just one example…..study Bill # 5599 !


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