Ross: Are gas prices really the problem?

Jan 9, 2024, 8:19 AM | Updated: 11:25 am

Gas station...

A motorist drives near the pumps at a Chevron gas station. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

(AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

Who is ripping you off at the pump?

The Legislature is determined to find out why gas costs so much. There are bills to require oil companies to reveal exactly how they set gas prices, and bills to clearly display the impact of the governor’s carbon fees.

But strangely, there is no mention of the one thing we drivers get free of charge – the unlimited right to dump into the air everything that emerges from our tailpipes.

I didn’t understand just how much CO2 my car spews out until I heard a clip from Todd Meyers last week. He runs a conservative think tank that opposes the carbon fees, and he knows his CO2. Because his argument is that the governor should have been upfront about how much this Carbon fee was going to cost us:

“The numbers that we came up with are the same that the same as the state of California came up with and was the same as the governor’s report in 2014 numbers,” Meyers said. “It’s math. Every gallon of gas produces 19.6 pounds of CO2.”

You heard that, right? Each gallon of gasoline produces 19.6 POUNDS of CO2. About TRIPLE the weight of the UN-burned gasoline.

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So in my case, I get about 42 miles a gallon, my round trip commute is 22 miles, so each DAY my car ALONE generates about 10 pounds of carbon and over my four-day work week, I generate 40 pounds. Over one month 160 pounds. And that’s just MY commute. Which is very short, in a high-mileage car, and only 4 days a week.

I get to throw it all away for free – even though that’s more than my kitchen trash – which I am charged for!

But Dave, you say – it’s different. C02 is invisible. Yes – invisible, but not insubstantial. C02 is what dry ice is made of – typically sold in 10 lb. slabs two inches thick and ten inches square. My CO2 trash would create a 32-inch stack of that stuff. Just tossed out of my car each month.

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Yes, it is a natural substance, but so is my yard waste, so is sewage, so is dog poop. None of which you can just fling into the street for free.

The governor keeps trying to explain away the carbon fees. What he should say instead is that of COURSE it makes your gas cost more – that’s the point: To discourage people from using so much, and – because in a free market economy, there should be no free lunch. Especially when it comes to trash.

On the bright side – I did some checking. Dry ice is worth about $4 a pound. So if each month I could just freeze my 160 pounds of surplus CO2, it’d be worth $640 as dry ice. And then I wouldn’t care WHAT gas cost!

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.


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Ross: Are gas prices really the problem?