Gasoline industry tells lawmakers there is no price gouging in Colorado
DENVER – Representatives of the gasoline industry told legislative leaders there is no evidence of price gouging in Colorado in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, despite sharp jumps that pushed gas prices to record levels above $3 a gallon.House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, D-Denver, and Rep. Gwyn Green, D-Golden, met with industry officials after Green threatened to introduce legislation establishing penalties for price gouging.Steve Douglas, general manager for product supply for Suncor Energy, said it took four days for prices to rise following the hurricane, forcing retailers to absorb price increases. He said it could take some time for prices to go down to pre-hurricane levels as retailers try to recoup those increased costs.He said the average price has dropped to $2.81 for unleaded regular, 22 cents above the average price before the storm.”I don’t think price gouging is going on here,” said Roy Turner of the Colorado-Wyoming Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association.Unlike more than 20 other states, Colorado has no law prohibiting price gouging, defined as jacking up prices for a commodity during emergencies.Green said she considered a price-gouging statute based on a price cap, but gas industry representatives said that would not work in Colorado because retailers get most of their gasoline supplies from out-of-state, making it difficult to determine wholesale prices. She said she is now looking at a broader definition that would require the governor to declare a state of emergency and punish retailers who set “unconscionable” prices.Turner said the industry was quick to investigate when consumers complained that a gas station in Golden was charging more than $4 a gallon. He said the retailer was disgruntled and no longer wanted to sell gas.Douglas said the gasoline industry would not have a problem if Colorado establishes a reasonable law against price-gouging, saying those practices give the industry “a black eye.”Romanoff said the industry has no way to monitor all stations and he wants to determine if there is a problem with price-gouging before proceeding with legislation.
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