It reads like a story from the satirical news site Babylon Bee, with a headline that might say, “Democrats can’t figure out why shutting down oil production has led to high prices.
On Thursday, Anchorage Sen. Bill Wielechowski and Fairbanks Sen. Scott Kawasaki made public their latest demand letter to Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor, in which they urge him to investigate what they have newly discovered — that gas prices are high again. They have a theory that gas sellers of Alaska are committing price gouging.
“Gasoline prices in Alaska have spiked by over 76 cents per gallon in the last month and are now $1.62 higher than the national average. The oil is from Alaska and is mostly refined in Alaska and there is no rational reason for this. That’s why yesterday I joined with Sen. Scott Kawasaki in asking the Attorney General to investigate this to protect Alaskans from getting gouged at the pump,” Wielechowski wrote.
In fact, Alaska’s refineries have the capacity to refine about 164,000 barrels of crude oil per calendar day, while the state is pumping about 475,000 barrels per day down the Trans Alaska Pipeline System, according to the Energy Information Agency.
Prices in Alaska for unleaded averaged $5.429 a gallon on Friday, according to AAA. But the price in California is much higher — $6.355, and drivers in Washington state are paying an average of $5.40 a gallon. Taxes on gas in those states are much higher than Alaska.
The two senators claim, without evidence, that prices in the Lower 48 have stabilized.
The head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy.com said the dramatic increase on the West Coast is due to refinery maintenance issues.
“A string of planned and unplanned refinery maintenance issues has severely tightened fuel supply in California,” said Doug Shupe, the Automobile Club of Southern California’s corporate communications manager, as reported by the Times of San Diego. West Coast fuel inventories are also at the lowest level in about a decade according to Energy Information Administration.
Until the West Coast refineries are fully operational again, supply is going to be tight and will cause pump prices to be volatile,” he said.
In Alaska, oil production is near its lowest level in 40 years, as a result of progressive anti-oil federal policies that have made it difficult for companies to operate in the Arctic. But the two Democrats also appeared to be unaware that the Democratic Party and its environmentalist surrogates have a hand in lower production.
“Alaskans are getting gouged, and we need to find out why. Gasoline prices have gone up by over $1 in just the last week in Anchorage for no perceivable reason. It makes absolutely no sense – the oil comes from Alaska and is refined in Alaska,” said Sen. Wielechowski. “It’s our duty and the Administration’s duty to Alaskans to determine why this is the case, find solutions, and collaborate to reduce costs. Too much of Alaskans’ money is going to fuel instead of food on the table.”
“Alaskans have long seen high gasoline and heating fuel prices even with an oil pipeline in our backyard. We need answers, and we need them now to help lower the financial burden too many Alaskans are facing this upcoming winter. Knowledge is power and both branches of government need that information to make informed decisions on behalf of all Alaskans,” Sen. Kawasaki said.
“There are no apparent national or international market forces that would justify such disparate pricing in Alaska. While Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February caused prices for crude oil and refined fuels to spike temporarily, prices have stabilized for most of the country—yet Alaska’s prices remain abnormally high. Given the severe financial burden that high fuel prices place on Alaskan families, it is important that we get to the bottom of this serious concern and identify any action that can be taken to address these excessive prices. With this investigation the Department should determine the cause of the exorbitant prices, whether any consumer protection laws have been violated, and what actions the state can take to address this crisis,” the two Democrats wrote.
Gas prices have been going up at an alarming rate all over the nation, partly because of the Biden Administration’s shutdown of domestic production as he tries to appease his eco-alarmist base, and partly because Russia President Vladimir Putin has taken advantage of a feeble American president and has destabilized Eastern Europe and the world while he has a chance. Last week, explosions took out a major gasline from Russia to Europe, in an act may believe was sabotage. This week, a bridge to Crimea was blown up. Power plants are threatened in Ukraine. Prices for gas in Europe will probably skyrocket this winter as a result of the war on Ukraine, and other fuels will follow. Worldwide, people are waking up to the reality of what a winter of high fuel prices might mean, and Democrats Wielechowski and Kawasaki seem to have just gotten the memo.
For the past six months, the Biden Administration has drained one million barrels of day of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in an effort to slow down price increases. That worked for a while, but world events have caught up with his strategy, and prices are now climbing quickly.
Also last week, OPEC and Russia agreed to cut production to drive up prices of oil.