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Washington gas prices are rising, but it’s not because of Colonial Pipeline attack

Gas prices continue to rise in Washington. (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)

Parts of the southeast United States have reported gas shortages and rising prices in the wake of a ransomware attack on the Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline. While it may seem logical to attribute similarly rising prices in Washington to that attack as well, it’s actually a different story entirely on the West Coast.

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According to data from AAA Washington, the state’s gas prices are up more than a dollar year-over-year. While that may seem significant, it’s less due to a far-off pipeline and more the product of 2020 being an outlier of a year.

“It is more expensive than last year, but when you look farther back, we’re OK,” AAA Washington spokesperson Kelly Just told KIRO Radio. “It’s not what you want to pay, but it’s definitely not out of line from previous years.”

She points to the fact that gas is actually two cents cheaper in Washington right now than it was at the same time in 2019, while it’s as much as 10 cents cheaper in Oregon. And despite significant increases over 2020’s prices, that’s indicative of a return to normal after a year where the pandemic had significantly fewer drivers on the roads.

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As for the attack on the Colonial Pipeline, that’s likely having little to no effect on the Northwest’s own gas supply, much of which comes from a pipeline that runs through British Columbia.

“What’s happening out east should have no impact on prices here,” Just said. “We don’t use that pipeline as part of our supply chain — when it comes to this particular incident, we’re fine.”

In the southeast United States, it’s a different story, with many gas stations plagued by long lines, and some even running out of gas altogether.

Washington saw the effect of its own supply chain being interrupted nearly three years ago, when an Enbridge natural gas pipeline in British Columbia ruptured in 2018. At the time, prices in Western Washington shot up between 15 to 30 cents a gallon, while Eastern Washington saw increases ranging from 10 to 20 cents.

Correction: A previous version of this story stated that the pipeline that ruptured in 2018 belonged to Puget Sound Energy. It has been amended to reflect the correct information.
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