Democratic House Judiciary members Conyers, Nadler, Meehan, Sanchez, Weiner, Jackson Lee, Boucher, Wexler, Van Hollen and Schultz called on the Federal Trade Commission investigate gasoline price gouging resulting from Hurricane Katrina, joining a similar call by the House Republican chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX).
Barton told a local paper he thought that increases of 20 cents per gallon Tuesday within his district might be “excessive, given that the industry in Texas is stable.”
Hearing about $2/gallon increases, Barton said, “If that’s true, that’s something that needs to be investigated and prosecuted,” Barton said. The rise in wholesale oil and gas prices “does not justify a $2-a-gallon gasoline price increase.”
The Judiciary Democrats' letter, which follows, was copied to RAW STORY.
We are writing as members of the House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over the antitrust laws, to ask that you commence an immediate investigation into reports of price gouging in gasoline markets across the nation.
There are numerous reports of massive increases in gasoline prices. For example, today's Washington Post reports price increases of as much as 88 cents per gallon in a single day. Some stations in Georgia are reported to be charging as much as $6 a gallon. In Illinois, prices are reported to have shot up 50 cents per gallon overnight, and the state attorney general received more than 500 reports of price gouging.
These increases go far beyond anything justified or relating to the market disruptions caused by Hurricane Katrina. As a result, we would ask the FTC to look into the various causes of the recent increases, identify the price gouging by opportunistic sellers and take any and all actions to end price gouging immediately.
You have examined similar issues for Congress in the past after other periods of price increases, and we find it essential that you complete an analysis for us today based on current market conditions. As time is of the essence, we would like to receive a status report on any preliminary findings as promptly as possible, but no later than September 15, 2005.
Originally published on Thursday September 1, 2005.