Arizona Republicans unveil plan they say can keep Valley gas prices from spiking

Dec 14, 2023, 9:11 AM

Arizona Senate President speaks during a press conference, with other Republican lawmakers standing...

Arizona Senate President Warren Petersen speaks during a press conference to unveil a Republican plan to ease gas price volatility in Phoenix, Arizona, on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2023. (Screenshot/Arizona Senate Republicans)

(Screenshot/Arizona Senate Republicans)

PHOENIX – Arizona Republican lawmakers unveiled a plan Wednesday they say can provide relief at the pump by easing gas price volatility in metro Phoenix.

“It really boils down to a free-market solution that we’re proposing here,” state Senate President Warren Petersen told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show shortly after Republicans announced their plan at a press conference Wednesday. “It took us awhile to figure it out, but … the Arizona Legislature can make a huge difference on this.”

Why do metro Phoenix gas prices spike at times?

Maricopa County gas stations are required to sell different fuel blends at different times of the year to meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirements. It’s one of the reasons Phoenix-area drivers typically see higher prices at the pump than the rest of the state and nation.

Currently, there are only two blends permitted under Arizona law. The Valley has seen prices spike above $5 per gallon during the spring and summer because of disruptions at refineries that produce the required boutique fuel.

“This is not OK, but it helped open our eyes to this antiquated law that had been passed a long time ago and helped us understand that … we should update this law,” Petersen said.

How can Arizona Legislature affect gas prices?

Petersen said the Legislature has the power to authorize more blends, pending EPA approval, and has identified eight candidates.

“And these eight blends that we’ve identified have the same air quality benefits as the two [current] blends, so we believe the EPA can and should approve those,” he said.

In theory, adding fuel blend options would lower prices at the pump through increased free-market competition.

“We’re estimating that … if this plan is implemented we can save anywhere from 30 cents to $1 per gallon in Maricopa County,” Petersen said.

What is the timetable for Arizona GOP fuel plan?

The Senate president said he is hoping the GOP plan can get enough bipartisan support to pass with an emergency clause, which would likely start the EPA approval process early next year.

Sen. Justine Wadsack and Rep. Alexander Kolodin are going to introduce the legislation and seek co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle, Petersen said.

“We should be able to get it to the governor relatively quickly,” he said.

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Arizona Republicans unveil plan they say can keep Valley gas prices from spiking