Following over thirteen straight weeks of price declines, Washington fuel prices increased again for the fifth week in a row, but only ever so slightly.
The average price of a gallon of regular unleaded was sitting at $4.13 statewide on Monday, up from $4.12 the week prior, according to AAA data. This 1-cent increase per gallon continues the reversal in Washington state’s three-month-long trend of fuel price declines.
While fuel prices have been falling slightly when looking at the national average, citizens of the Evergreen State have to dig deeper into their wallets than most. Washington’s pump prices held at third most expensive nationally being beat out only by California and Hawaii, who filled out second and first on the list.
“Keep an eye on the price of oil, because oil currently accounts for nearly 60% of what we pay at the pump,” said AAA spokesperson Andrew Gross in a statement. “And rising or falling oil prices can have a direct impact on motorists’ wallets.”
Washington’s $4.13 per gallon places it 66 cents per gallon higher than the national average of $3.47 per gallon. That is $1.05 per gallon above the nation’s least expensive fuel costs of $3.12 per gallon, currently paid by Texans.
In Washington, intra-state variance spikes even higher to $1.32 per gallon, up from last week’s $1.28 per gallon. The outliers this week, San Juan and Pend Oreille counties, represent the most and least expensive gas prices statewide at $4.84 and $3.52 per gallon, respectively.
This price variance still largely follows the Cascade Range, with residents to the west paying a higher premium at the pump than residents to the east.
On top of these higher prices, as of Jan. 1 of this year, Washingtonians also have a new cap-and-trade system to pay for at the pump.
According to a recent report by the Washington Policy Center’s Environmental Director Todd Meyers, gas prices in Washington have already spiked 10 cents per gallon relative to California and Oregon.
“What the data show is that prices in Washington state jumped suddenly over the last two weeks much more than the other states on the West Coast,” the report stated.
Ultimately, the full impact of the new carbon tax won’t be known until regular auctions occur. The report notes that the new law “sets a minimum price of $22/metric ton of CO2, which translates to 17 cents per gallon. The price could go as high as $81/MT which would be 65 cents per gallon.”