Gas Retailers Get Gouged

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Gas Retailers Get Gouged

WASHINGTON -- The Democratic 110th Congress is looking to pass legislation that eliminates the possibility of gas price-gouging at stations when it controls Capitol Hill in January, said Federal Trade Commission (FTC) chairwoman Deborah Platt Majoras at a discussion at the American Bar Association's fall conference, reported MarketWatch.

Majoras told the audience of lawyers that her contacts believe there is a plan to have legislation aimed at anti-competitive gas-gouging on the books by the end of 2008. She added that such a measure has bi-partisan support and it would not be surprising if Congress passed this legislation.

The head of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), already hinted at holding committee hearings on possible price gouging by the gas retailing industry, the report stated.

However, Majoras noted that the FTC found no instances of gas-gouging among gas retailers in the U.S. so far. "We've looked time and time again, we've looked very closely. As I've told my staff if something's there we have to find it. But again and again we've not found it," she said. Majoras said the FTC would not support such legislation and the agency has spent long hours "explaining publicly and privately" to decision-makers the dangers of price gouging legislation, the report stated.

High gas prices in 2006 were attributed to two factors, the first being that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has a hand in determining the price of crude oil, and second, that demand for gasoline has been continually high despite an escalating price, Majoras said at the conference.

She added that the FTC is closing on a report that looks into the reasons causing the price spike in 2005, and will be publishing the results shortly.