U.S. Senator Seeks Investigation Into High West Coast Gas Prices

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U.S. Senator Seeks Investigation Into High West Coast Gas Prices


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Gas prices have seen a noticeable nationwide decrease during the past few weeks. However, the west coast of the United States has not joined the party.

In the State of Washington, May gasoline prices narrowly avoided the record of $4.53 per regular gallon, set in July 2008. That fact has led U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, (D-Wash.) to write a letter yesterday to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission in an effort to investigate refinery operators Alon Energy USA, ConocoPhillips Inc., Royal Dutch Shell plc, Tesoro Corp. and BP plc, reported the Sacramento Bee.

According to the newspaper, the root of the problem could be that the refiners cut gasoline production following a fire earlier this year at the Cherry Point Washington State refinery, which created a supply shortage.

"The question is not whether there was a fire at Cherry Point," Cantwell said in an interview. "It's whether everybody else in the refining market also shut down capacity to create a shortage."

However, the Western States Petroleum Association denied the allegations.

"Sen. Cantwell has, in the past, made similar requests for investigations…and all of those have found that market factors are the dominant explanation for changes in product prices," Tupper Hull, the group's spokesperson, told the newspaper. "And none of those have found that manipulation of the market has occurred."