Inslee’s proposals take aim at record-breaking oil profits

BURIEN, Wash. — The pain continues at the pump.

According to the automotive group AAA, we are still paying the highest gas prices in the country.

As of Thursday, AAA says the average price per gallon in Pierce County is $4.96, $5 in Snohomish County, and $5.13 in King County.

Thursday morning, Gov. Jay Inslee discussed legislative proposals to take aim at record-breaking oil profits. Inslee says the state needs more transparency on pricing and more accountability from the oil companies.

Washington launched a cap and invest program that makes the companies essentially pay for polluting. Policy analysts on the right from the Washington Policy Center say that scheme has created a situation where the oil companies jack up the price on drivers, but another environmental policy analyst on the left with Climate Solutions says the companies are hoarding money to the tune of record profits.

Washington Policy Center Environmental Director Todd Myers says the governor simply wants high prices on gasoline to push his environmental agenda.

“It’s very clear what’s going on, and it’s not a mystery; it’s the intended purpose,” said Myers. “It’s essentially a tax on CO2 emissions and every gallon of gas emits the same amount of CO2. It’s the same as a tax on gasoline, it just gets passed on to consumers.”

Leah Missik is Senior Washington Policy Manager with Climate Solutions. She believes that oil companies are raking in record profits and that they did not necessarily need to drastically raise prices.

“The oil companies have been doing a lot to protect their profits, for many many years. In fact, in 2022 they made record profits over $20 billion combined. So they’re certainly not hurting and they are able to set the price and extract whatever value from us they can,” said Missik.

In a statement sent to KIRO 7, a spokesperson for Chevron said the following regarding the state’s policies on pollution and its cap-and-invest program:

“Chevron is proud to supply affordable, reliable and ever-cleaner energy. The cost of compliance with Washington’s recently enacted cap-and-invest program raises gasoline prices by about 10% in the state. The compliance costs that Washington drivers pay are currently $50/metric tonne or more – meaning $0.50/gallon or more. That not only made Washington gas prices the highest in the nation, it made transportation far more expensive. At Chevron, we know the future of energy is lower carbon and we are working to responsibly make those reductions real.”

The governor and some others have floated the idea of making sure consumers have a clear picture on the price of gas and that could be managed with more transparent pricing.

Missik says transparent pricing could help determine if price gouging is happening and maybe help levy penalties against companies that do it.

Toddy Myers with WPC says price transparency will do nothing to lower prices and that it’s another way to lay blame on oil companies.

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