Federal Trade Commission Confirms Price Gouging Not to Blame for High Gas Prices

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) confirmed on February 26 that so-called “price gouging” by petroleum producers was not to blame for the skyrocketing gasoline prices that plagued much of the country – in particular the Midwest – last summer. In a letter to Congress, the FTC wrote that they had “uncovered no evidence of tacit or explicit collusion among market participants.”

Said Patrick Burns, Director of CSE’s Center for Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources, “The FTC’s letter confirms what CSE has said all along, that claims of ‘price gouging’ were canards thrown out by the likes of Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and Carol Browner to cover up their own culpability for high gas prices, and to defuse a potent political issue. Rather than improprieties by the private sector, last summer’s price spikes were the result of complex reformulated gasoline rules, stringent regulations on petroleum producers, and the failure of the Clinton-Gore administration in the area of energy policy.”

While gas prices have fallen slightly since reaching more than $2.00 per gallon last year, consumers are still paying 50-60 percent more than two years ago. Burns noted, “For prices to come down further we need a strong national energy policy that increases domestic production, improves our regulatory system, and diversifies our resource base while emphasizing proven energy sources.”

“Hopefully the FTC’s conclusions will put to rest the theory that something other than misguided government policies were responsible for high gas prices,” Burns concluded.