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As gas prices rise, New York and Connecticut leaders want to lower taxes while hurting Russia

gas pump
Mike Mozart
/
Flickr

Crude oil prices have increased since Russia invaded Ukraine, which has led to global supply chain issues and higher prices at the pump in the U.S.

Gas prices on average across Connecticut have risen by more than a quarter per gallon over the last week. The state average price is 20 cents higher per gallon than the national average of $4.01. Gas hasn’t been this expensive in Connecticut since 2012, according to AAA Northeast.

On Long Island, gas prices are 25 cents higher than the national average. The average price of a gallon of gas in Nassau and Suffolk counties was $2.80 a gallon this time last year.

To control gas prices, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced a bill that would suspend the 18-cent-per-gallon federal gas tax until 2023. Outside of a Danbury gas station on Monday, he blamed Russia for putting stress on the global supply chain.

“Americans should be angry — I’m angry,” Blumenthal said. “When I filled my tank last night, I was angry at Vladimir Putin for starting this unnecessary, unprovoked war, which is disrupting the world markets and raising our prices here in Connecticut.”

Blumenthal said he’s also worried that consumers are being overcharged for gas.

“I have urged the Federal Trade Commission to begin a price gouging investigation because I fear expanding consumers may be victims of illegal charging,” he said.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has notified his office of “an abnormal market disruption,” which triggers additional consumer protections. He said the state intends to investigate every complaint of excessive gas pricing reported to his office.

“Overcharging consumers is unacceptable at any time, but during this abnormal market disruption it is illegal,” Tong said.

U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY) is also advocating for temporarily pausing federal and New York’s gas taxes to keep gas prices low.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul, who Suozzi plans to primary in the Democratic Party primary in June, said on Monday she’s not ready to commit to suspending the state’s tax on gasoline.

“We don’t have any guarantee that if you suspend the 10-cent-per-gallon tax on gas, that it’s actually going to result in lower taxes, because they’re going to keep going up. This is out of control of the station. It’s about a point of supply. So I want to make sure if we do something that’s actually going to have an impact,” Hochul said in Rochester.

New York’s gas tax is already capped around eight cents per gallon. Hochul said the state uses the tax revenue for repairs and improvements, and if that tax is to be reduced, she would want to make sure it would benefit consumers.

Suozzi also joined a bipartisan bill that bans import of Russian energy sources into America, including crude oil, petroleum products and coal. Suozzi wants to offset the expected spike in gas prices that would be generated by increasing domestic production of gasoline.

“The way to put the pressure on [Putin] is to support the Ukrainian people in their battle, and stymie the Russian onslaught as much as possible to affect them financially with the sanctions, the banks and now cutting off Russian oil,” Suozzi said.