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Senate OKs Stabenow-Dorgan Amendment Calling for Gas Price-Gouging Probe

Location: Washington, DC

Senate OKs Stabenow-Dorgan Amendment Calling for Gas Price-Gouging Probe

The U.S. Senate has amended a major energy bill to include the requirement that the Federal Trade Commission must conduct an investigation into whether the major oil conglomerates are artificially manipulating gas prices and gouging consumers. The amendment, authored by U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Byron Dorgan, was included in the bill with unanimous support.

In arguing for her amendment, Stabenow noted that earlier this week, prices at one mid-Michigan gas station jumped from $2.10 to $2.35 per gallon in the span of two hours. There were also similar reports of huge increases in the price of gas throughout the area, she said.

"At the same time that rising gas prices are causing Michigan families to think about curtailing their summer vacations, oil conglomerates are announcing all-time record profits," Stabenow said. "A majority of Americans believe these skyrocketing gas prices are not fair, and I am pleased that my Senate colleagues have agreed with me that the FTC needs to investigate these price hikes."

Dorgan in turn pointed out that North Dakotans are paying about $210,000 every day - nearly $77 million a year - in higher gasoline prices compared to a year ago, when prices averaged 21 cents a gallon less than they are today.

"This investigation will help us determine whether the high gas prices we are paying at the pump are the result of legitimate markets forces or, as we saw with Enron in California several years ago, deliberate market manipulation," said Senator Byron Dorgan. "We need some answers, and we need them sooner rather than later."

Specifically, the Senate version of the energy bill now directs the FTC to conduct an investigation to determine whether the price of gasoline is being manipulated by reducing refinery capacity or by any other form of market manipulation or price gouging practices.

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