Fuel rationing continues for some; claims of gouging increase

| Friday, September 02, 2005

Fuel rationing is the order of the day for many suppliers heading into the Labor Day holiday weekend as Hurricane Katrina's aftermath continues to interrupt fuel delivery - meaning many truck stops in the southeast are limiting trucks to 50 or 100 gallons of fuel each time they fill up.

This has already meant some changes for the trucking industry.

In Alabama, The Birmingham News reported that Boyd Bros. Transportation, a flatbed hauler based in the state, was ordering its truckers to keep their fuel tanks at least half full at all times to prevent them from running out in the event of a shortage.

Both Travel Centers of America and Petro truck stops reported shortages and outages at some stations on Thursday, Sept. 1. Petro said on its Web site that sites in the southeast and Midwest "are reporting very low inventories and may experience intermittent outages over the next few weeks."

Petro says it is trucking fuel to affected areas, but has been put on restricted allocations from many of its suppliers.

Flying J is reporting low supplies at stations in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Florida, New Mexico and Mississippi.

Meanwhile, the Department of Energy has reported a surge in the number of complaints about price gouging. The department reported that is has had more than 5,000 reports of price gouging on its Web site,http://gaswatch.energy.gov.

The states with the most complaints were North Carolina, Georgia, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Illinois, Tennessee, New Jersey, Michigan and South Carolina.

Department spokesman Drew Malcolm told The Associated Press that the reports were being turned over to the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC, however, has no individual jurisdiction over an individual gas station owner raising prices. The commission can only intervene if there is collusion among retailers.

State attorneys general from across the country are urging consumers to contact their attorney general's office if they suspect price gouging.

For a full list of state attorneys general offices and contact information, visit the National Association of Attorneys General online at http://www.naag.org/ag/full_ag_table.php.

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