Gov. Chris Gregoire today directed our state's Department of Commerce to assume lead responsibility for monitoring and reporting on gasoline and petroleum product prices and supplies, and asked the department to provide her with any recommendation on what actions might be taken to mitigate the high prices.
"Washington citizens are frustrated with having to pay gasoline prices that are significantly higher than those paid in other parts of the country," Gregoire said. "While gasoline prices in most of the nation continue to slowly decline, prices in Washington and the entire West Coast have risen or held steady over the past month. State residents and businesses are currently paying some of the highest prices for gasoline and diesel in the nation. If fuel prices remain high for an extended period they will have a detrimental effect on the state economy."
Specifically, Gregoire has directed the department to:
* Closely monitor Washington state and West Coast supplies and prices for gasoline, diesel, and other petroleum products and regularly report to the governor's office;
* Provide assistance to other state agencies in their work related to high gasoline and diesel prices, including reporting any market concerns to the Attorney General's office;
* Coordinate information and analysis with the appropriate energy agencies in the states of California and Oregon;
* Make recommendations on what, if any action, that the Department of Commerce or the Governor's Office should take under the statutory Energy Supply Emergencies and Alerts authority set forth in RCW 43.21G, where such action could help reduce petroleum product prices; and
* Provide any additional recommendations that could help reduce petroleum product prices.
According to the AAA, Washington state now has the fourth highest gas prices in the nation, behind Hawaii, Alaska and California. Washington's average price for regular fuel is now $4.24 a gallon, compared to the $3.66 national average. While average gas prices are expected to drop across the nation, some analysts are predicting a hike in gas prices along the West Coast this weekend by as much as 35 cents a gallon.
Recognizing that the West Coast is facing its lowest supplies of fuel since 1992, Gregoire today also sent letters to every refinery in Washington, asking them to "take all prudent measures to increase production and supplies sufficiently to reduce the costs for consumers on the West Coast." Gregoire continued to write, "I would also appreciate hearing any recommendations you might have for actions we might take to help mitigate the causes and impacts of higher gas prices." Gregoire intends to send similar letters to every refinery in California, as well.
To read the letter Gregoire sent to refineries, visit: http://www.governor.wa.gov/news/2012-05-25_mcdaniel_letter.pdf
To read the directive given to the Department of Commerce, visit: http://www.governor.wa.gov/news/2012-05-25_commerce_directive.pdf