Gordon set up the working group in June, amid record-level inflation and gas prices. The group held two public meetings in July and conducted working sessions to make recommendations to lower gas prices to offset inflation.
Department of Revenue Director and Working Group Chairman Brenda Henson said in a news release from Gordon’s office that the group members researched options and how those actions would affect prices.
“Members thought outside the box with a shared goal of providing Wyomingites relief, and brought ideas addressing both short- and long-term solutions,” Henson said.
In its report, the working group identified four primary factors impacting gas and diesel prices: cost of crude oil, refining costs, distribution and marketing costs, and taxes.
“Many of these factors are beyond the control of Wyoming and, to some degree, the U.S. government,” the report said. “Those factors within our reach would take a significant timeline to address.”
Still, the working group identified options in three policy areas for lawmakers to consider to address high fuel prices, the report said. Those policy areas are options to reduce the price at the pump, offsetting or compensating Wyoming residents and companies for high fuel prices, and long-term actions to ensure an adequate supply of fuel for Wyoming.
Specific items to consider in those policy areas include encouraging the use of gas apps, continuing efforts to increase the leasing of oil and gas reserves, reimbursing Wyoming oil producers with state funds for increased federal royalties on oil, bringing in more gas and diesel from other refineries, supporting more pipeline projects and developing incentives for keeping existing refining capacity.
Goals the working group identified included a long-term solution of increasing the capacity of Wyoming refiners, working group member Sen. Ed Cooper, R-Ten Sleep, said. The group heard “considerable” testimony that refining capacity within Wyoming is a challenge, he said. While oil is one of the state’s largest exports, fuel has become one of the state’s largest imports because of refining capacity, he said.
Rep. Clark Stith, R-Rock Springs, said the most promising direct policy recommendation is incentivizing the use of existing fuel storage capacity to reduce upward pressure on prices.
Cheyenne Logistics Hub, an industrial park, testified that having a large storage facility for petroleum products could even out the supply and demand for Wyoming consumers. Their facility can store about 350,000 more barrels of petroleum products. It isn’t filling much of its gas and gas products storage capacity because it’s currently financially burdensome to fill the facility and not be able to move the product before prices go down.
Stith said the working group didn’t recommend a state fuel tax holiday.
“The bulk of the benefits would go to producers and out-of-state drivers and deplete the highway fund,” he said.
Review the report here.