Gas Price Gouging Investigation Applauded

By Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:22 PM EDT

( - A consumer group is praising California Attorney General Bill Lockyer for subpoenaing oil company executives and investigating gas price gouging allegations.

The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) issued a report Thursday claiming that oil company profiteering is behind the recent spike in gas prices in the state.

The report done by petroleum industry analyst Tim Hamilton shows gas prices jumped 65 cents a gallon from Jan. 17 to April 18, 2005. Refiner profits shot up 61 cents a gallon, the study said.

"The Lockyer investigation should put oil industry executives on notice that they are going to have to answer tough questions about their role if the price of gasoline rises more than ten percent above pre-Katrina prices or above approximately $3.10 per gallon," said FTCR President Jamie Court, who served with Hamilton on the attorney general's Gasoline Pricing Taskforce.

"The Attorney General should make clear that if oil companies raise wholesale gasoline prices without cause then the companies will be prosecuted for gouging consumers at the pump since station owners have very little choice over how much they can charge," said Court.

Court also called on the attorney general to make public "key evidence" from the investigation, "including testimony from oil company executives."

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