Fuel prices in Washington state have finally seen a drop after months of soaring, but they still hover above the $5 per gallon mark. Despite this decrease, Washington remains the second-highest state in the nation for gas prices, trailing only behind California.
At the beginning of the year, Washingtonians were paying an average of $3.84 per gallon at the pump. However, according to the latest data from AAA on Monday, the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas in the state now stands at $5.06, down slightly from the previous week’s average of $5.09.
By comparison, California is grappling with even higher prices, with the average cost of gas sitting at $5.43 per gallon this week, up from $5.32 the week before.
Washington’s modest 3-cent decrease per gallon marks the first relief drivers have seen in months. Nationally the average has headed in the opposite direction, ticking up by 2 cents per gallon from $3.81 to $3.83.
AAA spokesperson Andrew Gross noted, “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.”
Washington’s current $5.06 per gallon is significantly higher than the national average of $3.83, surpassing it by $1.23 per gallon. Mississippi residents are paying the lowest gas prices at an average of $3.26 per gallon.
Within the state, there remains a substantial price disparity of $1.12 per gallon, although this has decreased by 9 cents from the previous week. In this context, San Juan and Asotin counties stand out as having the highest and lowest gas prices statewide, at $5.59 and $4.47 per gallon, respectively.
This variance in prices still largely follows the Cascade Range, with residents to the west paying a premium at the pump compared to those in the eastern part of the state.
The Washington State Department of Ecology has conducted three quarterly carbon auctions and one Allowance Price Containment Reserve auction this year, amassing over $1.4 billion. The third quarterly auction produced prices high enough to trigger a second Allowance Price Containment Reserve auction, scheduled for November 8.
Critics argue that the carbon tax is a major driver of Washington’s high gas prices, while Governor Jay Inslee’s administration and the state Department of Ecology maintain that the state’s cap-and-trade program, a component of the 2021 Climate Commitment Act, has had a minimal impact on gas prices within the state.