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Washington gas prices stabilize above $5 amid $919.5 million carbon tax windfall

Washington, (Qnnflash) – Fuel prices in Washington state are experiencing a moderate rise, though the pace has slowed compared to previous weeks. However, California maintains its position as the leader in pump prices, surpassing Washington by 21 cents per gallon this week.

As of Monday, the average cost of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in Washington reached $5.04 per gallon across the state, a slight increase from the previous week’s $5.02, according to AAA data. In California, the average gas price for this week stands at $5.25 per gallon, up from the previous week’s $5.15.

Washington’s 2-cent per gallon price hike aligns with the national average, which moved from $3.85 to $3.86 per gallon. This 1-cent per gallon increase represents a deceleration compared to the 3-cent per gallon rise from the previous week and the 7-cent per gallon surge two weeks ago. Notably, Washington’s $5.04 per gallon exceeds the national average of $3.86 per gallon by $1.18. Furthermore, it remains $1.73 per gallon higher than the least expensive fuel cost in the nation, which currently stands at $3.31 per gallon and is paid by residents of Mississippi.

Intra-state fuel price disparities in Washington still persist, though there has been a 25-cent per gallon reduction from the previous week, resulting in a variance of $1.08 per gallon. San Juan and Asotin counties remain the outliers, representing the highest and lowest gasoline prices at $5.54 and $4.46 per gallon, respectively.

The pattern of price variation across Washington generally follows the Cascade Range, with western residents encountering higher fuel costs than those in the eastern regions.

Some industry experts attribute Washington’s relatively high fuel costs to legislative factors, including the state’s cap-and-trade carbon tax program, which was implemented on January 1. Critics argue that despite claims that the program would have minimal impact, consumers are now paying an additional 50 cents per gallon solely due to the cap-and-trade program. Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, highlighted this concern and expressed it in a statement to The Center Square. Senator Mark Mullet, a Democrat, shares this sentiment and has introduced legislation to limit the price of cap-and-trade program auctions.

However, Governor Jay Inslee holds a differing view regarding the cause of the price hikes. During a recent press conference, Inslee refuted claims that the cap-and-trade policy was responsible for the recent price increases, asserting that the additional costs were not a result of the new policy.

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