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Rising fuel prices could impact road trip plans for Washingtonians

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(The Center Square) – According to the American Automobile Association, as of Friday, Washington state drivers are paying an average of $4.67 a gallon for regular unleaded gas – 34 cents higher than a month ago, making Washington’s gas prices the third highest in the nation.

The nationwide average is $3.67 a gallon.

Several factors account for the Evergreen State’s painful price at the pump, including refineries switching to a more expensive blend of fuel in the spring and summer months and the rising price of crude oil.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration has raised its forecasts for oil prices for the rest of 2024 and into 2025.

EIA estimates oil prices will average $85.30 per barrel in the second quarter of this year and $86.84 per barrel in the third quarter before going down to $85.17 in the fourth quarter.

These higher prices will likely drive up costs not just for Washington motorists, but drivers throughout the nation.

Washington’s cap-and-trade program under the Climate Commitment Act is also a factor in Washington’s high gas prices.

The CCA was passed by the state Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee in 2021. It established a cap-and-trade program requiring emitters to obtain “emissions allowances” equal to their covered greenhouse gas emissions. Similar to stocks and bonds, these allowances can be obtained through quarterly auctions, which started last year, hosted by the Department of Ecology.

Quarterly and special auctions have brought in more than $2 billion so far.

Critics of the program claim it raised gas prices in the state last year by up to 50 cents per gallon.

Voters will decide the fate of the program this November via Initiative 2117 to repeal the CCA and prohibit state agencies from implementing any type of carbon tax in place of the repealed CCA.

According to AAA’s metro average prices, the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett metropolitan area has the highest price for a gallon of gas in the state at $4.83 a gallon, while Clark, a city in southeastern Washington, has the lowest price at $4.15 a gallon.