Fuel Pricing Sparks Debate in Calif. Gubernatorial Race

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Fuel Pricing Sparks Debate in Calif. Gubernatorial Race

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante and a state senator said Thursday they would seek to impose government controls on the gasoline market in California amid surging fuel prices that have pushed past $2 per gallon.

With an Interstate gas station in the capital as a backdrop, where prices were $2.10 for regular unleaded, Bustamante threw his support behind a proposal by state Sen. Joe Dunn to regulate gasoline prices in the state, San Francisco Chronicle.

"Californians are being gouged, and under current law, we are powerless to do anything about it," said Bustamante, who is running as a replacement candidate in the recall election.

Industry groups, experts and even some government officials questioned the wisdom of regulating the gas market, and Dunn acknowledged it would have an uphill battle becoming law and would most certainly be challenged in court by oil companies. A number of people said price controls, which were briefly put in place in the 1970s by the federal government, could lead to shortages.

John Felmy, chief economist for the American Petroleum Institute (API) called regulating the gasoline industry "an idea that has failed."

"It was a classic case of government failure that resulted in long gas lines," Felmy said.