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Gordon’s fuel workgroup points to possible solutions to high prices 

Handles on a gas pump.
Jonathan Fickies

Relief at the gas pump might not be immediate, according to a new state-issued report on how to reduce fuel prices; however, several ideas could be floated in the upcoming legislative session.

Governor Gordon appointed a “Gas and Diesel Working Group” earlier this summer in hopes of lowering costs for Wyomingites. Back in June, the average cost of gas in the U.S. hit an all time high of $5 per gallon.

The work group's findings, indicated that the four main factors affecting prices are the cost of crude oil, refining costs, distribution and marketing costs and taxes.

Some solutions to directly lower the prices for customers that the group identified include creating a dynamic sales tax that would ebb and flow with the price of goods.

“Sales tax relief would be a relatively efficient way to help Wyoming residents. Wyoming residents pay about 90 percent of all sales tax in the state,” according to the report. “Disadvantages include the complexity of administration, the additional administrative burden on retailers and potential disruptions to the state budgeting process.”

Other ideas included creating a Wyoming gas app, where people using the app would qualify for a partial refund from the state for fuel over $4 a gallon. Plus, funding an existing fuel tax credit for the disabled or elderly.

Some of the other solutions outlined were more indirect with the hope that helping out the oil and gas industry could eventually help lower fuel prices.

Some examples include bringing in more gas and diesel from other refineries and streamlining the Wyoming permitting process to increase refining capacity in the state.

"The Working Group heard considerable testimony that refining capacity within the state is a challenge. Oil is one of Wyoming's largest exports; on the other hand, due to refining capacity, fuel has become one of the largest imports,” said Sen. Ed Cooper (R-Ten Sleep), a working group member. “As a longer-term solution, seeking ways to expand our refining capacity will help keep the cost of gas lower at the pump for Wyoming."

Other ways the group identified to help the industry include partially reimbursing oil producers for federal royalties and increasing production on state land.

Gordon said he hopes the legislature will consider all the options in the upcoming session.

“We have always recognized that national and global factors weigh heavily in determining the price at the pump. However, this report outlines actions Wyoming can take that can make a difference to our residents, in addition to just being able to produce more oil and gas,” Gordon said in a statement. “There are some specific recommendations that the public, and especially the Legislature, should look to for solutions to high gas and diesel prices here in Wyoming.”

Wyoming’s 2023 general legislative session begins Jan. 10.

Caitlin Tan is the Energy and Natural Resources reporter based in Sublette County, Wyoming. Since graduating from the University of Wyoming in 2017, she’s reported on salmon in Alaska, folkways in Appalachia and helped produce 'All Things Considered' in Washington D.C. She formerly co-hosted the podcast ‘Inside Appalachia.' You can typically find her outside in the mountains with her two dogs.
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