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Washington state gas price fall, but remain above $5 a gallon

Despite a slight decrease, gas prices in Washington state continue to rank among the highest in the nation. For the first time in months, the Evergreen State has seen a 3-cent drop in fuel prices, but the relief at the pump remains minimal for consumers.

At the start of the year, Washingtonians were paying an average of $3.84 per gallon for regular unleaded gasoline. As of the latest data from AAA, the average price per gallon in Washington now stands at $5.06, down marginally from the previous week’s $5.09.

However, this price drop doesn’t signal a broader trend. In fact, it runs counter to the national average, which saw a 2-cent increase to $3.83 per gallon from $3.81 the previous week. AAA spokesperson Andrew Gross commented on this unusual phenomenon, stating, “Pump prices appear to be defying the odds at the moment, despite the surge in the cost of oil. This uneasy balancing act may last until we get beyond hurricane season and its threats to Gulf Coast oil and gas production and refining.”

While the 3-cent decrease provides a minor respite, Washington still claims the unenviable position of having the second-highest gas prices in the United States, trailing only California. The average cost of gas in California this week is $5.43 per gallon, up from $5.32 the previous week.

Washington’s current fuel price, at $5.06 per gallon, is a significant $1.23 per gallon higher than the national average of $3.83. Even more stark, it stands $1.80 per gallon above the nation’s lowest fuel cost of $3.26 per gallon, which is currently found in Mississippi.

The variation in gas prices within the state remains substantial, with a $1.12 per gallon difference observed. This represents a 9-cent per gallon drop from the previous week. The counties at both extremes of this spectrum are San Juan County, with the highest gas prices at $5.59 per gallon, and Asotin County, with the lowest at $4.47 per gallon.

This price discrepancy largely mirrors the Cascade Range, with residents to the west generally bearing a higher cost at the pump compared to those in the eastern part of the state.

Critics of Washington’s high gas prices often point to the carbon tax as a significant factor. The state’s cap-and-trade program, part of the 2021 Climate Commitment Act, has been met with controversy. The Department of Ecology has conducted several carbon auctions this year, generating over $1.4 billion. High prices in the third quarterly auction triggered a second Allowance Price Containment Reserve auction scheduled for November 8.

While critics argue that the carbon tax contributes to Washington’s soaring gas prices, the state’s government maintains that the impact on gas prices has been minimal. This debate over the role of carbon pricing in fuel costs continues to be a point of contention among policymakers and residents alike.

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