Michigan governor takes aim at fuel price gouging

| Thursday, March 06, 2003

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm has ordered the state’s public employees to keep an eye out for fuel price gouging in the state.

In a statement Feb. 27, the governor’s office said workers in the Michigan Department of Agriculture and the Michigan Public Service Commission would monitor fuel prices, and refer information about potentially unfair pricing practices to the attorney general for possible action under the Michigan Consumer Protection Act.

The effort also extended to the Legislature.

Rep. Kathleen Law, D-Gibraltar, and Sen. Ray Basham, D-Taylor, plan to introduce bills to prohibit gouging during states of emergency declared by the Governor. Currently, the law contains no specific prohibition against fuel price gouging, even in the face of a state emergency. The prohibitions would be added to the Michigan Consumer Protection Act.

“Gouging consumers during a time of crisis is an absolute outrage and will not be tolerated,” Rep. Law said in the statement. “Gas stations and oil companies that turn public fear into obscene profits must be held accountable.”

According to a report in The Detroit News, immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Granholm, who was then state attorney general, filed actions against 48 fuel stations, some of which were selling fuel for $5 a gallon. Her actions collected refunds of about $80,000 and $30,000 in fines.

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