OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Gov. Chris Gregoire on Friday directed the state Department of Commerce to monitor rising gas prices in the state and asked the agency to recommend what actions can be taken to help reduce costs to drivers.

Gregoire on Friday also sent letters to every refinery in Washington asking them to “take all prudent measures to increase production and supplies sufficiently to reduce the costs for consumers on the West Coast.” She plans to send similar letters to refineries in California as well.

Washington state now has the fourth highest gas prices in the nation, behind Hawaii, Alaska and California, according to auto club AAA. Washington’s average price for regular fuel is now $4.24 a gallon, compared to the $3.66 national average. Some analysts are predicting a hike in gas prices along the West Coast this holiday weekend by as much as 35 cents a gallon, even as prices in other parts of the country are expected to drop.

Gregoire wants the Department of Commerce to monitor the prices for gas, diesel and other petroleum products, coordinate information with agencies in California and Oregon and make recommendation on what, if any action the state can take to help reduce petroleum product prices. Also, Gregoire wants the agency to report any market concerns to the Attorney General’s Office.

“Washington citizens are frustrated with having to pay gasoline prices that are significantly higher than those paid in other parts of the country,” Gregoire said in prepared statement. “While gasoline prices in most of the nation continue to slowly decline, prices in Washington and the entire West Coast have risen or held steady over the past month.”



Letter to refineries: http://www.governor.wa.gov/news/2012-05-25_mcdaniel_letter.pdf

Directive to Department of Commerce: http://www.governor.wa.gov/news/2012-05-25_commerce_directive.pdf

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.


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