Lowering Gas Prices for Arizona

In an ambitious move aimed at stabilizing gas prices in metro Phoenix, Arizona’s Republican legislators, led by Senate President Warren Petersen, presented a strategy on December 13, 2023, intended to mitigate the volatility of fuel costs. At a press conference, Petersen explained, “It boils down to a free-market solution that we’re proposing here. It took us a while to figure it out, but … the Arizona Legislature can make a huge difference on this.”

Small business owner Martha Llamas was one of the featured speakers and highlighted the challenges her employees face regarding the surging fuel prices. “My employees have all told me about their struggles and how the increased prices have left many of them living paycheck to paycheck,” says Llamas.

“They’re sometimes forced to choose between buying food, paying the rent, or putting gas in their cars.”

The fluctuation in gas prices within the region has been significantly impacted by the mandate for Maricopa County gas stations to offer various fuel blends in alignment with the seasons, fulfilling U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandates. The current legal stipulation allows only two specific blends, leading to surges in prices, notably exceeding $5 per gallon during certain periods due to refinery disruptions. Petersen remarked on the necessity of modernizing what he deemed an “antiquated law,” stressing, “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 highlighted the Legislature’s capacity to expand the authorized fuel blends, with eight potential candidates already identified, all of which purportedly match the air quality benefits of the existing blends. “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 asserted.

This proposal is anticipated to foster free-market competition, potentially reducing fuel costs by 30 cents to $1 per gallon in Maricopa County. The plan is now awaiting bipartisan support, with the hope of an expedited approval process beginning early next year. Petersen optimistically noted, “We should be able to get it to the governor relatively quickly,” citing collaboration efforts with Sen. Justine Wadsack and Rep. Alexander Kolodin to garner cross-aisle backing.

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