Washington's $4 gas prices hurting the bottom line

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by AMY MORENO / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on March 26, 2012 at 5:23 PM

Updated Monday, Mar 26 at 7:40 PM

SEATTLE -- There's almost nowhere in Western Washington where drivers can find gas for under $4.00 a gallon.

AAA reports the state average hit $4.07 Monday, with Seattle, Bellevue and Everett drivers paying $4.13 a gallon. Bellingham drivers are paying the most in the state, $4.22 a gallon.

Meanwhile, the national average is $3.89, AAA reports.

Washington is among a handful of states, including Oregon, California, Alaska and Hawaii, where drivers are paying more than anywhere else in the nation for gas.

Find cheapest gas prices in Western Washington with GasBuddy - click here

In Seattle, gas prices are forcing business owners to make tough decisions about passing the costs onto customers. Ballard Blossom recently increased delivery charges because of gas prices and the 520 tolls. They also started asking customers to recycle delivery boxes.

"It's really a game where you have to watch what's going on every day and we have to mitigate some of the costs,” said florist Travis Treser.

Perhaps the toughest choices come for those who serve the needy. Northwest Harvest spent $8,000 more than they budgeted on gas last month.

“$8,000 for Northwest Harvest buys 36,000 meals, so that's meals we can't provide because it's going to gas,” said spokesman Deborah Squires.

Northwest Harvest said they have reached out to donors to pick up extra costs but now they're considering turning down donations that require long drives to pick up.

“You have to start weighing is it worth to go pick it up because of what it costs to bring it back,” said Squires.

“No one makes money on gas anymore,” said Harold Hezel, an independent gas station owner in Seattle. "Whenever it's doing this you end up losing money because every load of gas costs more than what you sold the last one for."

Hezel even considered closing down his pumps, but says he can't afford to dig up the fuel tanks. He takes a loss to keep his car repair shop open.

The BP Cherry Point Oil Refinery in Whatcom County  has been shut down since a fire there last month. BP plans to have it back online by next month, which could help keep prices stable. However, experts don't expect it to equate to a price drop.

The highest Washington's average gas price ever reached was $4.35 back on July 6, 2008.

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