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January 08, 2008
Gas Gauge tour kicks off in Bellingham

OLYMPIA – Attorney General Rob McKenna and economist Keith Leffler will gather public comments and discuss results from the first phase of the state’s ongoing investigation into gas prices tomorrow night in Bellingham at the first of three stops on the “Gas Gauge” tour.

Whatcom County Executive Pete Kremen and 42nd District State Rep. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, will join McKenna, Leffler and staff from the state Attorney General's Office and the state Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development at tomorrow night's meeting.

Members of the public are invited to learn about factors influencing gas prices in Washington state and their communities. They will have an opportunity to ask questions and provide information they believe may be relevant to the state’s investigation.  The last such comprehensive study into Washington gas prices was published in July 1991 by the state Energy Office (now CTED’s Energy Policy Division).

When:   7 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2008
Where:   Whatcom County Council Chambers, Whatcom County Courthouse, 311 Grand Ave.

The Attorney General’s Office released a report detailing findings from the first phase of the gas prices investigation in August. Key findings from Phase I included:

  • Retail gas prices in the 1991 study tended to be lower in the Seattle area than in Eastern Washington. This trend has reversed, with the Bellevue and Bellingham reporting the highest average retail prices in recent years.
  • Crude oil costs increased by more than 76 cents per gallon from December 2003 to May 2007; these costs made up roughly 50 percent of the cost of a gallon of gas in July 2007.
  • Refinery margins increased by nearly 94 cents per gallon from December 2003 to May 2007, making up roughly 22 percent of the price of a gallon of gas in July 2007.
  • The current total fuel excise tax in Washington is roughly 54.4 cents per gallon—the highest total fuel excise tax in the nation – in part because Washington relies on its gas tax for most of its highway funding.

The Attorney General’s Office is overseeing the investigation with assistance from the state Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development. To assist with the research, state agencies retained Dr. Leffler, an economist at the University of Washington with expertise on the state’s petroleum industry.

The final report is expected to be released near the end of February and will include additional analysis related to differences in the wholesale cost of gasoline from various supply sources, transportation costs, retailing costs and diesel prices. Anomalies in the data will also be addressed.

Information about Washington gas prices can be found online at 
People unable to attend the forum may submit comments via e-mail to
- 30 –

Media contacts:
Kristin Alexander, Media Relations Manager, 206-464-6432
Janelle Guthrie, Communications Director, 360-586-0725 or 360-584-3046 (cell)

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