Kohl Urges Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission to Investigate Escalating Gas Prices
U.S. Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI), Ranking Member of the Antitrust Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today sent a letter to Federal Trade Commission Chairman Deborah Majoras and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales expressing very serious concern over the unprecedented rise in gasoline prices in Wisconsin and throughout the nation and calling for an immediate investigation. In the letter co-signed by Subcommittee Chairman Mike DeWine (R-OH), Kohl called on 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."
This letter follows extensive action by Kohl on the urgent problem of rising oil and gas prices. In September 2005, Kohl called for investigation of the causes of the sharp increases in gasoline prices in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. This investigation is ongoing at the Federal Trade Commission. Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously passed the Oil and Gas Industry Antitrust Act co-sponsored by DeWine and Kohl, with Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA), legislation which would significantly strengthen antitrust law to combat anti-competitive conduct in the oil and gas industry. The Judiciary Committee has conducted hearings over the past few weeks on the causes of rising gas prices.
Throughout Wisconsin, and all across the nation, gas prices have reached alarming levels, with three dollars per gallon commonplace and, in some cases, reaching to three dollars and fifty cents. Gasoline prices have increased 30% in just one year.
Emphasizing the need for immediate attention on the part of the antitrust enforcers at Federal Trade Commission and Justice Departments, Kohl wrote 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 is immense and is still growing." He added that "it is essential that the government ensures that the gasoline markets are fully competitive and free of any illegal price fixing, price gouging or other anticompetitive practices."