Utah gas prices are soaring. Here’s what Gov. Cox wants to do about it

The average cost of a gallon of gas in Utah is $4.35, according to AAA data.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Gov. Spencer Cox speaks at his monthly news conference in Salt Lake City on Thursday, March 17, 2022.

As Utahns face the steepest gas prices the state has ever encountered, Gov. Spencer Cox on Thursday said he was meeting with the state’s legislative leaders and budget analysts to find a solution to help families weather the soaring costs.

During his monthly televised news conference on PBS Utah, the Republican governor said he had met with House Speaker Brad Wilson and Senate President Stuart Adams on Wednesday. Cox said he expects to meet with the state’s petroleum industry later this week.

“These conversations are ongoing. We will be meeting with lots of different people that participate in the supply chain when it comes specifically to gas and petroleum products and see what we can do as a state to alleviate the pressure,” Cox said. “More broadly than just gas prices, this inflation has been happening for quite a while now is deeply concerning. Gas prices are a part of it, but people are feeling it with other ways as well.”

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) High gas prices are reflected in the Salt Lake Valley on Thursday, March 17, 2022.

Eliminating the state’s gas tax would be complicated, according to Cox, because that revenue funds the Utah Department of Transportation’s workforce.

California lawmakers this week are set to announce a proposal to offer a $400 tax rebate for its residents to weather high gas prices this year. When asked if Cox would consider a potential gas rebate for Utahns, the first-time governor said “Everything’s on the table.”

As of Thursday, Utah’s average gas cost was $4.35 per gallon, according to data released by AAA. That is a nearly 9% increase from last week’s average cost of $4.01 per gallon of gas. Nationally, the average cost of a gallon gas sits at $4.29.

Earlier this month, President Joe Biden ordered a ban on Russian oil imports as a result of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. He warned Americans will feel the strain on their wallets at the gas pumps.

Cox said Utahns should brace for higher gas costs as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine endures. Cox also said he fears that high gas costs, coupled with rising inflation, could put Utah families in a position where they have to choose between spending money on a full tank of gas or putting food on the table.

“People will have to change their habits,” he said. “That may mean ... that family vacation that people were planning on taking may not happen or will have to be shortened or kept closer to home.”