Stumbo offers price gouging evidence to Congress

John O'Brien May 15, 2007, 1:00pm


FRANKFORT, Ky. - The first attorney general to allege price gouging on the part of a major oil refinery, Kentucky's Greg Stumbo on Monday contacted Congress with an offer to share his evidence.

Stumbo is alleging Marathon Oil, Marathon Petroleum and Speedway SuperAmerica unlawfully helped to raise gasoline prices during a declared state of emergency following hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

During the 18 months since, Stumbo said he has compiled evidence that proves the defendants overcharged consumers more than $89 million. He sent letters to members of committees investigating national gas pricing and studying a possible federal price gouging statute and Kentucky's entire Congressional delegation.

"Reliable information is the key to wise lawmaking, and Congress should examine our evidence of profiteering as it debates this issues," Stumbo said.

The letters were sent to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, House Committee on Energy and Commerce and House Committee on Education and Labor.

According to Stumbo, some matters currently pending before the committees are:

-Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation - S.94-Gasoline Consumer Anti-Price Gouging Protection Act;

-House Committee on Energy and Commerce Committee - H.R. 1252-Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act;

-House Committee on Education and Labor Committee - H.R. 1252-Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act; and

-Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on May 15, 2007 at 10:00 a.m. about Short-Term Energy Outlook: Summer 2007: Oil and Gasoline.

"Gas price gouging is not only an issue here at home, but it's of national concern," Stumbo said. "My litigation team and national experts in the field of petroleum pricing have reviewed voluminous amounts of evidence in this case - evidence that may be helpful to those reviewing gas price gouging on the national level."

In his letter, Stumbo expressed his desire to be subpoenaed for that evidence.

"Obviously, this evidence is highly relevant to federal price gouging review and subsequent policy making. My office would be pleased to share this information in response to a Congressional subpoena," he wrote.

Marathon Oil has already replied, claiming the prices during the period properly reflected lower domestic crude oil production and refinery capacity after the hurricanes. The company has also filed a federal suit, challenging the constitutionality and Stumbo's interpretation of the state's anti-price gouging law.

"Our product pricing during the time in question was made responsibly, using the same market-based, supply and demand pricing fundamentals we use every day," the company said in a statement.

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