Visualization of NPI's Oil Industry Accountability Act poll finding
Visualization of NPI's Oil Industry Accountability Act poll finding, demonstrating deep public support for Senate Bill 6052 / House Bill 2232 (NPI graphic)

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?

ANSWERS:

  • 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.

Fol­low this link for addi­tion­al method­ol­o­gy details, includ­ing demo­graph­ic data.

NPI and PPP have worked togeth­er for a decade and have a track record of excel­lence, as detailed in this 2022 elec­toral polling recap and this 2020 one.

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.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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