More than two-thirds of likely 2024 Washington voters support requiring the petroleum industry to submit detailed information to the state about the prices it is charging for gasoline, with a majority strongly supportive, a poll conducted in the final weeks of 2023 for the Northwest Progressive Institute has found.
69% of 700 voters surveyed from November 14th-15th by Public Policy Polling for NPI backed the idea of regulating unfair oil company business practices with pricing transparency legislation, which is what Senator Joe Nguyen’s recently introduced Oil Industry Accountability Act (Senate Bill 6052) proposes to do.
Only 21% expressed opposition to the idea, while 10% were not sure.
Senate Bill 6052 received a hearing today in the Senate Energy, Environment, and Technology Committee. Requested by Governor Jay Inslee, it would do the following, as assessed by the Senate’s nonpartisan staff:
- Require certain petroleum industry entities to report or retain specified information regarding supply, pricing, transportation, maintenance, and transactions of petroleum and petroleum products, subject to confidentiality requirements.
- Create a Division of Petroleum Market Oversight within the Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC), and direct the UTC to gather, analyze, interpret, and report on submitted information and other petroleum supply and price information.
- Require the UTC to submit a transportation fuels assessment to the Governor and Legislature, and requires the UTC and the Department of Ecology to prepare a transportation fuels transition plan.
- Authorize the UTC to impose civil penalties for failing to provide or falsifying information related to transportation fuels.
- Prohibit a person from making a deceptive environmental marketing claim related to transportation fuels.
- Impose an enhanced penalty under the Consumer Protection Act for unlawful acts or practices relating to the sale of transportation fuels.
“We all need affordable ways to get around, but for decades oil companies have set fuel prices with no oversight or transparency,” the Environmental Priorities Coalition points out in a fact sheet urging passage of Senate Bill 6052.
“The oil industry extracts some of its highest profits in the entire country from Washington. While we struggled through the pandemic and inflation, oil companies pocketed historic profits of over $200 billion in 2022 alone.”
“Currently, the state has no tools to protect the public and consumers from volatile and potentially unfair prices at the pump. Consumers deserve transparency on what goes into setting fuel prices, and we need proper data collection and visibility to achieve that. For decades, the oil industry has held a near-monopoly on our transportation options, and has been able to set prices at-will with zero oversight. There are reasonable steps the state can take to protect consumers from corporate greed and unfair pricing.”
NPI agrees and so do the vast majority of Washington voters.
Here’s the exact text of the question we asked and the responses we received:
QUESTION: State lawmakers are considering strategies to protect Washingtonians from unjustified and excessive price increases for gasoline. Do you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose passing a new Washington State law to regulate unfair business practices by requiring the oil industry to submit detailed information to the state about the prices it is charging for gasoline?
- Support: 69%
- Strongly support: 54%
- Somewhat support: 15%
- Oppose: 21%
- Somewhat oppose: 7%
- Strongly oppose: 14%
- Not sure: 10%
Our survey of 700 likely 2024 Washington State voters was in the field from Tuesday, November 14th through Wednesday, November 15th, 2023.
The poll utilizes a blended methodology, with automated phone calls to landlines (42%) and online answers from respondents recruited by text (58%).
It was conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP) for the Northwest Progressive Institute, and has a margin of error of +/- 3.7% at the 95% confidence interval.
Below is the Environmental Priorities Coalition’s SB 6052 fact sheet in case you’re interested in learning more about this important legislation. SB 6052 also has a companion bill — HB 2232, which has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.EPC one-pager on Senate Bill 6052
It’s clear that greater price transparency is something Washingtonians really want. Lawmakers must act this session to provide that transparency and refuse to be dissuaded by the baseless objections of the powerful, deep pocketed oil industry.