Carbon auctions, gas prices: Figures aren’t oil company profits

Thanks for mentioning our estimates of the impact of the tax on carbon dioxide emissions in your recent editorial (“Why we’re buying carbon emissions by the ton,” The Herald, Nov. 10). To be clear, the Washington Policy Center didn’t come up with the numbers. We simply applied the calculation used by the state of California when estimating the impact of their cap-and-trade system on gas prices and used the current allowance price in Washington. This is a standard formula. We simply applied it.

However, you also included information that is factually incorrect from Gov. Jay Inslee’s office and Climate Solutions that is worth correcting.

You noted that, “Others, including Gov. Jay Inslee’s office, cited in a Crosscut article, have suggested that oil companies have used the auctions as cover for some of the nation’s highest profit margins, at 60 to 80 cents a gallon. Climate advocacy group Climate Solutions has put the oil companies’ profit as high as $1.09 a gallon in Northwest states.”

These claims are incorrect. Both Inslee and Climate Solutions cite the Oil Price Information Service as their source. I encourage you to call OPIS directly about this claim. Brian Norris is the executive director of Retail Data at OPIS and he can explain what the data actually mean.

The number is not oil company profit. Indeed, the number has nothing to do with oil companies. Instead, it is the markup from wholesale to retail charged by gas stations, including Safeway, Costco, and other stations. Additionally, it is not profit. The markup must cover all a station’s costs, including rent, labor, taxes, credit card costs, etc. It is gross revenue, not profit.

Both the Governor and Climate Solutions have been told that their claim is false and that OPIS data don’t have anything to do with oil company profits. But they continue to dishonestly repeat that claim.

There are many things we can do to effectively reduce carbon dioxide emissions. I wrote an entire book about it. We have consistently favored effective efforts that reduce carbon emissions, contrary to the wasteful and ineffective policies that have characterized Washington’s approach.

Climate policies that are based in consistently dishonest claims are doomed to fail — as they have been for the past decade — not to mention unethical.

Todd Myers

Washington Policy Center


Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Opinion

Editorial cartoons for Sunday, March 3

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste, center, greets a new trooper during a graduation ceremony, as Gov. Jay Inslee looks on in the Rotunda at the Capitol Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018, in Olympia, Wash. The class of 31 troopers completed more than 1,000 hours of training and will now work for the WSP across the state. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Editorial: Lawmakers miss good shot for fewer traffic deaths

Legislation to lower the blood alcohol limit for drivers didn’t get floor debate and vote in Senate.

Kevin Flynn, right, a meat-cutter with the Marysville Albertsons, hands a leaflet to a shopper during an informational campaign on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022. Flynn was one of about a dozen grocery store workers handing out leaflets to shoppers about the proposed merger between Albertsons and Kroger. (Mike Henneke / The Herald)
Comment: What’s next for the supermarket supermerger?

State and federal agencies have sued to block the merger of Albertsons and Kroger. Here’s what to watch for:

Focus homelessness efforts on treatment, harm reduction

I’m a social worker in Massachusetts, originally from south Everett. As the… Continue reading

Stop buying, using plastic packaging

Plastics are petrochemically based packaging materials that degrade, yielding micro fibers and… Continue reading

Eco-nomics: Preparing for, limiting climate crisis demands a plan

Fortunately, local governments are developing and updating climate action plans to outline necessary steps.

Comment: State ‘mansion tax’ would bite at all income levels

More than high-priced homes, it would increase costs for employers and multi-family housing projects.

A model of a statue of Billy Frank Jr., the Nisqually tribal fishing rights activist, is on display in the lobby of the lieutenant governor's office in the state Capitol. (Jon Bauer / The Herald.
Editorial: Two works in progress to save Columbia Basin salmon

Sculptures of an Indian fishing rights activist will guard commitments to save salmon and honor treaties.

FILE - In this Aug. 21, 2015 file photo, a tanker airplane drops fire retardant on a wildfire burning near Twisp, Wash. Three firefighters were killed battling the blaze. The story was a top Washington state news item in 2015. Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz has proposed a plan to strengthen the ways that Washington can prevent and respond to wildfires. Franz released the 10-year plan last week as part of her $55 million budget request to the Legislature to improve the state's firefighting abilities (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Editorial: Wildfire threat calls for restoring full funding

Lawmakers should restore funding for fighting wildfires and call on one furry firefighter in particular.

Jaime Benedict, who works as a substitute teacher, waves to drivers on the corner of Mukilteo Speedway and Harbor Pointe Boulevard while holding a sign in support of the $240 million capital bond proposal for Mukilteo School District on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020 in Mukilteo, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Editorial: Bar set unfairly high for passage of school bonds

Requiring 60 percent approval denies too many students the schools and facilities they deserve.

Editorial cartoons for Saturday, March 2

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Forum: Separation of church and state keeps us from unholy wars

Civilizations have tried the route of state religion, only to see the rise of religious persecution.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.