Washington gas prices decline slightly, settle in at more than $5 a gallon

The average cost of a gallon of regular unleaded gas in Washington state declined by 2 cents this week, according to AAA data, going from $5.06 last week to $5.04 this week.

That translates into Washingtonians paying the second-highest gas prices in the nation, behind only California and its $5.68-a-gallon gas.

The average price nationwide for a gallon of gas is $3.88, per AAA.

“Oil costs are putting upward pressure on pump prices, but the rise is tempered by much lower demand,” said AAA spokesperson Andrew Gross in a news release. “The slide in people fueling up is typical, with schools back in session, the days getting shorter, and the weather less pleasant. But the usual decline in pump prices is being stymied for now by these high oil costs.”

Critics say Washington’s carbon tax plays a major role in the state’s high gas prices.

The administration of Gov. Jay Inslee and the state Department of Ecology contend the state's cap-and-trade program, part of the 2021 Climate Commitment Act, has had a minimal impact on gas prices in Washington.

The state Department of Ecology has held three quarterly carbon auctions and one Allowance Price Containment Reserve auction so far this year, bringing in more than $1.4 billion.

Prices in that third quarterly auction were high enough to trigger a second Allowance Price Containment Reserve auction, slated for Nov. 8. The next quarterly auction is set for Dec. 6.

State Rep. April Connors, R-Kennewick, says she will propose legislation next session to provide financial relief to Washington drivers in the form of the Carbon Auction Relief, or CAR, Payment program.

The program would work like this: excess revenue collected via carbon auctions would go directly to drivers as $100 checks for individuals or up to $200 per family, with future payments perhaps being even more based on how much surplus revenue is generated.

“After receiving the initial July payment, registered vehicle owners would receive an annual check when they renew their vehicle tabs,” a Monday news release from Connors said. “The amount of the check would vary depending on how much the state has collected above what was forecasted to be collected in 2021, when the CCA was enacted. The Department of Ecology is not expected to update revenue projections to take into account the higher-than-expected auction prices until the end of 2023. At that time, more realistic projections of CAR Payment amounts can be developed.”

The proposed legislation is about helping put-upon drivers, Connors stressed.

“High gas prices are draining the budgets of those who can least afford it,” she said in the news release. “Many of my constituents have had to cut back on groceries, cancel family trips, or make other painful sacrifices. The CAR Payment program is about getting dollars back into their pockets.”


Salem News Channel Today

On-Air & Up next

See the Full Program Guide