McCain to ask FTC to examine fuel-price gouging

| 8/29/2003

Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, said he was not sure whether he would hold congressional hearings on the gas shortage caused by the Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP pipeline shutdown.

But McCain said Aug. 29 he wanted the Federal Trade Commission to look into the price gouging that occurred at some Phoenix area gas stations when supplies dwindled and consumers panicked, The Phoenix Business Journal reported.

There are currently no federal anti-price gouging laws. However, companies can be prosecuted for price fixing or collusion under both federal and state antitrust laws.

"The fact is there is no short-term solution. We're going to have price volatility and fuel changes for a least two years and probably longer," said Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. "Sen. McCain would certainly do truckdrivers and others a favor if he held hearings on the effects of fuel price volatility and followed up by pursuing solutions based on those hearings."

McCain chairs the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and has joined other elected officials and business leaders who want to make sure the shortage does not occur again.

Federal, state and local regulatory and consumer protection agencies, as well as congressional offices like McCain's, were flooded with complaints of predatory pricing during the shortage.

The senator was visiting Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other international hot spots during the local shortages but did write Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta during the shortages, asking that federal approvals of pipeline repairs be fast-tracked.