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Washington gas Prices Stabilize Above $5 as State Collects $919.5 Million in Carbon Taxes

Washington, (Qnnflash) – Fuel prices in Washington state are on the rise once again, albeit at a slower pace compared to previous weeks. However, California maintains its position as the leader in pump prices, surpassing Washington by 21 cents per gallon this week.

According to data from AAA, as of Monday, the average cost of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in Washington stood at $5.04, up from $5.02 the previous week. In California, the average gas price for this week is $5.25 per gallon, marking an increase from $5.15 the week before.

Washington’s 2-cent per gallon increase mirrors the national average, which went from $3.85 to $3.86 per gallon, indicating a 1-cent per gallon increase during the same timeframe. This 1-cent increase in price represents a slowdown from the 3-cent rise of the previous week and the 7-cent hike from two weeks ago.

At $5.04 per gallon, Washington’s gas price is notably higher than the national average of $3.86 per gallon by $1.18. Additionally, it surpasses the least expensive fuel price in the nation, which is $3.31 per gallon paid by residents of Mississippi, by $1.73 per gallon.

Within Washington, there remains a significant variation of $1.08 per gallon between different areas, although this is a decrease of 25 cents per gallon from the previous week. San Juan and Asotin counties stand as outliers this week, recording the highest and lowest statewide gas prices at $5.54 and $4.46 per gallon, respectively.

This price discrepancy continues to align with the Cascade Range, with western residents paying a higher premium at gas pumps compared to their eastern counterparts.

Some experts attribute the relatively high fuel cost in Washington to legislative factors, specifically the state’s cap and trade carbon tax program initiated on January 1. Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, mentioned that although the program was initially projected to have minimal costs, Washington consumers are now paying 50 cents per gallon due to the cap-and-trade program.

Senator Mark Mullet, a Democrat, agrees that the prices are excessive and has introduced state legislation to cap the auction prices. However, Governor Jay Inslee differs in opinion and stated that the recent price hikes are not a result of the new cap-and-trade policy.

Mike Faulk, the governor’s spokesperson, clarified that the cost impacts of the Climate Commitment Act are likely higher than initially projected due to oil companies attempting to pass compliance costs onto consumers.

The third quarterly carbon auction is scheduled for August 30, following an emergency price containment auction triggered by excessively high prices in the second auction held on August 9. Preliminary results from the emergency auction indicate a total sale of available shares amounting to $62.5 million. When combined with the $857 million generated from regular quarterly auctions, the cap-and-trade program has collected a total of $919.5 million in proceeds so far, averaging just over $4 million per day year-to-date collected by the Department of Ecology for the new carbon tax.

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