Editorial - A bizarre investigation

07/19/2004
Even against the zany backdrop of a presidential election year, a federal antitrust investigation into the planned closure of a refinery seems bizarre.What would the Federal Trade Commission do if it somehow determined that next October's shutdown by Shell Oil Products US of its 70,000 b/d refinery in Bakersfield, Calif., actually violated antitrust statutes? Would it really declare martial law on American business by forcing the company to continue operation of an unprofitable asset?The investigation looks like a sop to Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who allege that the closure will raise West Coast gasoline prices. Indeed, it might do that—slightly a...
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