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WA is the most expensive state to buy gas for the first time in history – KIRO 7 News Seattle

For the first time ever, Washington is the most expensive state in the country to buy gas. According to AAA, the price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas averages $4.91 nationwide. Mid-range gas is around $5.09/gallon, and premium averages $5.29.

As of Tuesday, Washington ranks No. 1 in all three categories, and also boasts the third-highest price in the U.S. for diesel, at $4.94 per gallon.

In King County, the average price of regular gas has passed $5 per gallon, while Pierce and Snohomish County drivers will pay about $4.90 per gallon. In the Seattle area, prices for regular grade have risen nearly 75 cents since January.

Some drivers claimed they cannot keep up with the increase but have little choice.

“Unfortunately, I need my car for work, so we have to budget in other ways,” Katie, a Seattle resident, told KIRO Newsradio.

The data showed an increase of more than 30 cents across the country in the past month for regular gasoline. Of other neighboring states, only Oregon saw a larger increase in that time period, with a jump of 40 cents. However, Oregon’s current average of $4.56 per gallon for unleaded gasoline is still 35 cents below Washington.

What causes the peak is a matter of intense debate. Some point to the state’s new “cap and invest” emissions program, which was implemented in January. The program sets a limit – or a ceiling – for the total carbon emissions in the state and requires businesses (including fuel suppliers) to receive allowances corresponding to their covered greenhouse gas emissions. These allowances can be obtained through quarterly auctions organized by the Washington State Department of Ecology. They can also be bought and sold on a secondary market, similar to a share or bond.

According to Todd Myers of the Washington Policy Center, this program means drivers pay more at the pump.

“The way fuel suppliers in California and Washington have done it is they’ve simply, instead of trying to speculate what the future prices will be, they’ve incorporated the cost of the allowances immediately into gas prices,” Myers told KIRO Newsradio. “So what you see is the gas price almost immediately reflects what those prices are.”

But Luke Martland, Climate Commitment Act Implementation Manager at the State Department of Ecology, argued it’s not that simple.

“What determines what we pay at the pump in Washington is supply and demand: the war in Ukraine, what Saudi Arabia can do, how much profit the oil companies take from the sale. There are a whole bunch of factors – and ceiling and investment can be one of those factors. But to say there is a direct connection is simply not accurate.”

Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, said the link between the cap-and-trade program and gas price increases is clear.

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