Washington has higher gas prices than the rest of the country.

By Charles Opara

For years, Washingtonians have paid a higher gas price.

Despite having five oil refineries in the Puget Sound area, Washington has some of the highest gasoline prices in the country.

According to The Advocate News’ research of retail pump prices provided by AAA, the discrepancy has risen over the last decade.

Gas prices are hovering near $5 a gallon in King County. Diesel fuel, in green, is even higher. Tim Temmer is at the Union gas station on Broad Street and Denny Way. (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)
In King County, gas costs are hovering around $5 per gallon. Diesel gasoline is even more expensive in green. Tim Temmer is at the Broad Street Union gas station. 

The average cost of a gallon of normal gas in Washington was 45 cents higher than the national average from 2017 to 2021. According to the data, which is adjusted for state gas-tax increases, the difference, or spread, is nearly double the 2011-2016 average of 24 cents. (The tax hikes took place in 2015 and 2016.) During those two years, the state’s gas taxes, as reported by the federal Energy Information Administration, increased.

Administration shows the increase as the third highest among the 50 states, at $11.9 per gallon.)

The spread expanded throughout much of March and April as Washington gas prices rose in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It then became narrower. However, on May 5, the average price of normal gas in Washington was $4.75, approximately 39 cents higher than the national average. According to AAA data, the price was also $1.26 higher than the typical Washington regular gallon on that date a year earlier.

Residents of Washington pay more at the pump.
The gap — or spread — between Washington’s average regular gas prices per gallon and national averages peaked in 2019 and is still wide.

Rising petrol prices have fueled an already strong demand for electric vehicles in Washington, which has some of the lowest power costs in the country. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, has drafted legislation that would submit additional pricing information to federal regulators for market supervision, and it is scheduled to be filed in the Senate this month.

The cheapest gas in Washington has just been discovered in Eastern Washington, where stations tie into a pipeline network that can bring gas in from Montana and Utah refineries. On May 5, Asotin County, near the Idaho border, had the greatest gas deal in the state, with an average regular price of $4.33.