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New Price-Gouging Bill Passes House

This article was written by in Economy. 14 comments.


While it will probably be vetoed by the White House, the House of Representatives passed a bill designed to prevent price-gouging at the gas pump after catastrophes, like Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Charley (NY Times).

The House bill would give the FTC “the explicit authority to investigate and punish those who artificially inflate the price of energy,” and require offenders to pay triple damages, or up to $3 million, for charging “unconscionable prices” (CNN Money).

Red gas pumpNow I understand that there are going to be legitimate criticisms with this bill, but two cited in the CNN Money article are laughable. First, there’s an insinuation that the bill would cause long gas lines like during the shortage in the 1970s (that could only be caused by a drop in supply — which could only be a retaliatory move by refineries). The second strange criticism comes from the executive vice president of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association, whose very position pits him against the bill. His criticism may be valid, but the author of the article could have found a less biased source.

All things considered, the bill may not be necessary as anti-gouging laws are already on the books. For more about gas price gouging, CNN Money provided a FAQ a few years ago that explains how gas at the pump is priced, why there are regional variations in price, how to detect gouging, and how to report suspected illegal pricing.

Updated February 10, 2011 and originally published May 24, 2007. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar FMF

What a waste of time. Is this what our House has at the top of its agenda? Sheesh.

What about free market economics? What about supply and demand? What about the fact that if one station decides to charge $8.00 a gallon you can simply GO TO ANOTHER STATION? What if they all charge $8 a gallon? As you’ve said, there are already laws on the books for gouging (not to mention price fixing.)

My expectations for this Congress are falling by the minute. So much for the change we were promised last fall.

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avatar FMF

Just saw this (http://instapundit.com/archives2/005576.php) and came back to “pile on.” :-)

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,485 (Platinum)

FMF: Thanks! I can always count on you for dumping on the Dems. :>

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avatar FMF

Just trying to keep things lively! ;-)

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avatar Easy E

If they really cared about the prices then maybe the could stop taxing the hell out of it.

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avatar Bobby

Just catching up on some reading.

I think it is interesting that you referred to a point made by the VP of the NPRA as both strange and valid.

Also, if a point is valid, does it really matter who made it?

Finally, as far as gas prices go, is ANYONE really unbiased?

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avatar Richie

Everytime congress investigates ‘big oil’ they find nothing on price gouging.

The democrats ran last year partially on rising fuel costs. Since they have been in office my gas has gone from $2.00/gal to $3.00/gal. Conclusion: they lied (ooh that word), they can do nothing about it (other than taxing fuel to make the prices rise) or they are doing just the opposite of their campaign promises.

The only way to make fuel prices lower is to drill more at home (less dependency and more supply) and increase refining capacity, neither of which they are willing to do.

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