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High Arizona gas prices may have out-of-state policies to blame

Arizonans are paying nearly 40 cents more at the pump than the national average. One state representative is worried about that price getting even larger.

PHOENIX — If you’re driving anywhere in Arizona, you might be feeling more pain at the pump than usual. On average, Arizonans are paying 40 cents more than the national average right now. But one Arizona state representative is worried that the price could increase even more.

Arizona relies on fuel coming from out-of-state, namely Texas and California. State Rep. Justin Wilmeth, a Republican representing constituents in north Phoenix, traveled to California because he is concerned that changes there could impact Arizonans at the pump. 

“We don’t have any refineries of our own, so we are reliant on your fuel, and these decisions that you make,” Wilmeth said in a public comment at a state senate oversight hearing. 

The oversight hearing was about Senate Bill X1-2, the California Gas Price Gouging and Transparency Law, which was signed by California Governor Gavin Newsom in March of 2023 and took effect in June of 2023. 

Wilmeth is specifically concerned with this proposal because it could cap California refineries’ profits — a concern the president of the Western States Petroleum Association has as well.

“If the CEC chooses to penalize refiners making revenue over a certain number that will actually incentivize less in-state gasoline supply, not more,” Catherine Reheis-Boyd said. 

Wilmeth is asking California to consider a proposal that works for the entire Southwest, not just one state. 

“If they were to lower production or supply, the prices would go up, and there’s not much we could do about that,” Wilmeth said. “That’s basic supply and demand economy… right there.” 

Steven Bradford, a Democratic state senator for California, said it is good to hear the concerns from neighboring states like Arizona.

“We are not in a vacuum, that what we do in California impacts other states and sometimes the nation, and they depend on a great deal of their petroleum, their gas products from California,” Bradford said. “We need to understand that what we do will drive costs up, also in Arizona.”

No decisions have been made yet, Wilmeth said. The proposal will head to California’s other legislative body next week where it will be reviewed. 

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