The event at Jackson’s Shell Station in Kent was held from 10 am to 12 pm. Some cars lined up over an hour before the event.
The event was sponsored by the Washington chapter of Americans for Prosperity and advocacy group Future 42 in response to Washington state having the dubious distinction last month of having the highest average gas prices in the US for the first time in history, beating even California.
According to AAA, the current average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas in the state is $5.05. In Seattle, prices have been as high as $5.69 a gallon.
The blame for the increase is being leveled at Washington’s new Climate Commitment Act (CCA), a “cap and invest” emissions program, also known as the carbon tax, passed by Democratic lawmakers last year, that went into effect on Jan 1.
The program caps overall carbon emissions in the state and requires businesses to obtain allowances through units equal to their covered greenhouse gas emissions during quarterly auctions from the Washington State Department of Ecology.
Roughly $1.4 billion in revenue for the state has already been brought in from the state’s first three quarterly auctions in 2023.
In a statement announcing the event, Americans for Prosperity and Future 42 said, "Years of reckless spending and crushing regulations have Washingtonians paying more and getting less. Gas prices have skyrocketed to more than five dollars per gallon in the state, nearly two dollars more than the national average.”
“Meanwhile, Governor Inslee claims Washington’s new expensive cap and trade and carbon tax would have 'minimal impact, if any' on consumers. But the state’s new carbon pricing system has forced gas prices up, making gas in the Evergreen State among the most expensive in the nation.”
According to Todd Myers of the Washington Policy Center, “Although Washington is paying more for CO2 emissions than California, that additional cost doesn’t help the environment – it just harms our economy. As long as the governor and agency staff continue to deny that reality, Washington residents will pay a high price for energy, but won’t receive the environmental benefits they are paying for.”
Myers added that Inslee’s Department of Ecology scrubbed the agency’s web page of claims that the fuel prices would not increase and "...significantly increased the estimated impact of the tax on CO2 emissions on Washington’s economy."
Despite warnings that the tax would increase gas prices, some in the media “fact-checked” those claims using information from the Washington Department of Ecology in an effort to debunk the theory that gas prices would increase.
Washington’s spike in gas prices has caused debate between politicians and state representatives. The Washington Policy Center (WPC), a statewide think tank, believes the state is the culprit for the surprisingly high prices.
Myers wrote in a recent update, “There are growing indications that the Climate Commitment Act (CCA), the formal name of the tax on CO2 emissions, is broken. Washington families, businesses, farmers, and others are paying far more but aren’t receiving any more environmental benefit. Once again, Washington politicians have chosen an extremely expensive and relatively ineffective policy.”
During an interview on The Ari Hoffman Show on Talk Radio 570 KVI, Democratic state Senator Mark Mullet called for a special session to discuss his legislative proposal to change the Carbon Tax to lower gas prices.
In response to Mullet’s challenge, Inslee's press secretary Mike Falk told Hoffman in a statement that Governor Jay Inslee would not call for a special session to help relieve the added financial stress on Washingtonians saying, "There’s no need for a special session when oil companies flush with more cash than ever could just lower their prices right now."
He added, "The senator’s proposal is exactly what fossil fuel companies want: It slows down their responsibility to pay for pollution, keeps us tied to climate-killing fossil fuels and delays accountability around inflated gas prices."
Earlier this month, Washington truckers announced they would be taking Inslee's Department of Ecology to court over fuel surcharges.
Myers noted that the carbon tax has cost drivers an extra “50 cents per gallon of gasoline and 61 cents per gallon for diesel.” That is in addition to Washington’s 49.4 cents per gallon fuel tax which is the fifth-highest in the US.
Aside from fuel prices, the CCA is also affecting utility prices. Last month The Center Square revealed that the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) approved a request by Puget Sound Energy (PSE) earlier this month to raise its natural gas rates to cover the costs of the CCA.
However, the UTC mandated that PSE, which serves approximately 800,000 customers in six counties, was not permitted to inform customers in their bills as to why there was a rate increase based on a recommendation from the office of Washington State Attorney General, Democrat Bob Ferguson, who recently announced his campaign for governor and was hailed by the Seattle Times as Inslee’s “handpicked…chosen successor.”
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