DEWINE AND KOHL URGE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE AND FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION TO IMMEDIATELY INVESTIGATE ESCALATING GAS PRICES
Senators Mike DeWine (R-OH) and Herb Kohl (D-WI), Chairman and Ranking Member, respectively, of the Antitrust Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today sent a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Federal Trade Commission Chairman Deborah Majoras expressing concern over the unprecedented rise in gasoline prices in Ohio, Wisconsin and throughout the nation. In the letter, DeWine and Kohl urged the two agencies "to launch an immediate investigation into the causes of these price increases, and to prosecute any and all persons or entities engaging in price gouging, price fixing or any other illegal or anticompetitive conduct.
"The devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina has disrupted oil supplies, refining and pipeline facilities. But it is simply unconscionable for unscrupulous individuals to take advantage of this tragedy by engaging in price gouging. All such immoral and illegal conduct must be promptly and aggressively investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
Throughout Ohio and Wisconsin, gas prices have reached alarming levels, with $3.00 per gallon commonplace and, in some cases, reaching to $3.50 or more. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, many have forecasted that oil and gas prices could spike again to $4.00 per gallon in many areas.
Emphasizing the need for immediate attention on the part of Justice Department and FTC officials, the Senators added that "the suffering of consumers who must spend hard earned dollars to purchase gasoline to travel to work, to school, and to stores to purchase essential goods has become immense and is growing and it is critical that we determine if these price increases are caused by normal market conditions or are the result of illegal conduct or market tampering, and to vigorously prosecute all those engaged in illegal conduct".