KENT, Wash. — Gasoline prices across Washington state are sitting at an average of $5.05.
When prices began to increase earlier in the summer, an expert told KING 5 there were a couple of key reasons for it: supply and demand along with the summer blend of gasoline which is more expensive. However, two conservative policy-supporting groups, Future 42 and Americans for Prosperity-WA (AFP-WA) put the blame on Washington's cap-and-invest program.
Cap-and-invest came from a law passed in 2021, the Climate Commitment Act (CCA), forcing the state's biggest polluters to pay for the carbon emissions they emit.
RELATED: Inslee signs ambitious environmental protections laws for Washington state
Governor Inslee's office sent a statement in regards to the high gas prices that reads, in part:
"Gas prices are primarily driven by supply and demand. Fossil fuel companies have announced they are passing on CCA 'compliance costs' to consumers, but there is little transparency about how they calculate these impacts and why they choose to pass them on to consumers at the pump when these companies are already gouging drivers.
These same global companies are experiencing record profits year over year but some like Chevron claim Washington’s law alone would 'bankrupt' them if they didn’t charge consumers. That’s why Gov. Inslee and legislators are proposing price transparency legislation in 2024 to address price gouging at the pump."
Future 42 and AFP-WA have a few ways they're trying to get CCA repealed: a ballot initiative, a lawsuit, and asking people to talk to their lawmakers about repealing it. To hammer home their point, the groups partnered with a local gas station in Kent for two hours on Wednesday morning. They dropped gas down to $3.82, two cents cheaper than the national average of $3.84
Despite it being a partisan event, people who filled up their gas tanks were happy for the relief; 200 vehicles in total were filled.
Emily Velazco graduated high school this year. When KING 5 asked her why she was there getting gas, she said, "I'm going to be honest, my mom just told me to wake up and go get cheap gas."
At 18, Velazco says many of the decisions she makes are centered around the cost of gas, like her job and deciding whether she wants her own place. She says it's very hard to be a young person in 2023 when everything is so expensive.
Jennifer Anderson says she loves living in Washington, pointing to all the state's parks and trails as an added benefit. However, the price of gas has made her rethink actually going out to enjoy a hike. “It’s starting to really make a difference, especially with how much it’s gone up recently over five bucks," Anderson said.
Anderson added she's now filling up gas tanks for her children who are starting to drive. She'd like to purchase an electric car, but can't afford to at the moment. Anderson is hopeful the price of electric cars will go down in the future so more people won't have to rely on fuel-powered vehicles.
The Washington Department of Ecology, which is overseeing the cap-and-invest program, sent KING 5 the following statement about its connection to the current gas prices.
"With regard to gas prices, regulations like the CCA do play a role, but the majority of the price increases we’ve seen in Washington since Jan. 1, 2023, are coming from other places. We know that because Oregon, which gets nearly all of its fuel from Washington refineries but does not have a policy like the cap-and-invest program in place, has seen nearly identical price increases this spring and summer – albeit from a lower starting point."