Regulating the Oil Industry and Corralling Oil Industry Profits for the Benefit of Citizens and Businesses in Washington State

Issue Brief | February 1, 2006 | By John Burbank

Executive Summary

Washington citizens and businesses are paying historically high prices for gasoline while the major oil companies are reaping windfall profits. As a result, hundreds of millions of dollars are being taken from the budgets of families and businesses and exported out of our state every week.  We can reverse this economic injustice by developing a state windfall profits tax, establishing regulatory pricing of gasoline, and creating a study commission of oil company practices and pricing in our state.

The windfall profits tax could generate over $500 million annually to fund the incubation of renewable energy, reimburse schools for increased heating and transportation costs, provide low-income heating assistance, and/or reduce business and occupation taxes across the board. Regulatory pricing could save consumers and businesses over $10 million every week. The study commission could lay the groundwork for a rational and publicly debated and endorsed energy policy that recognizes oil as an essential commodity.

Washington state has the authority to create policy to capture some of the windfall profits of oil companies, invest these profits in renewable energy, and regulate gasoline prices. This discussion brief lays out the background and explores policy options for a rational and democratic energy policy  in our state.


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Posted in An Inclusive Economy, Ending Corporate Tax Breaks, Funding Public Services