Washington State’s Nation-Leading Gasoline Prices Should Serve as a Warning

Washington's Climate Commitment Act is big reason for 35 to 52 cent jump in gas prices

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Vacationers hitting the highways currently face a nationwide average price of $3.52 per gallon of gasoline, according AAA. However, the price varies widely among states.

California usually leads the nation and is currently at a sky-high $4.85 per gallon, but this year it has been eclipsed by Washington state at a hefty $4.98 per gallon. The reason is clear – costly climate change policies adopted by both states – and it provides lessons for the rest of the nation.

The cheapest gas is in Mississippi at $2.96 per gallon, and several other states are under $3.30. This gives a real-world yardstick of what is possible at current oil prices.  

So what explains the almost $2 extra for gas in Washington and California? Part of it is state gasoline taxes. The 18.4 cents per gallon federal tax is uniform, but state taxes vary, and both Washington state and California are higher than the average of 39 cents per gallon. Further, tough state refinery regulations and gasoline specifications also explain part of the difference.     

But what really sets these two states apart from the others is their climate policies targeting gasoline.

California acted first with its low carbon fuel standard and cap and trade program, both of which have been around for years and are estimated to add 47 cents per gallon to the current price. But Washington has been making up for lost time in 2023 with its stringent new Climate Commitment Act. 

Like California’s measures, Washington’s effectively puts a price on the carbon content of gasoline sold in the state, and is a big reason behind the estimated 35 to 52 cent jump in prices compared to neighboring states, according to Todd Myers of the Washington Policy Center. And it will get worse, as this is just the first year of the law, which gets progressively more stringent in the years ahead. 

Many proponents of the Climate Commitment Act predicted the price increases and asserted that the extra pain at the pump is needed to wean drivers away from gasoline and fight climate change. 

But now they have changed their tune in response to the unpopularity of the measure and are blaming corporate greed by speculating that the law somehow provided fuel producers with the opportunity to manipulate market prices higher. However, the increases are entirely in line with the per gallon cost of the program so far.

Read the full article at Fox News.