FTC says industry not to blame for high gasoline prices last summer

Oil companies did not conspire to drive up the price of gasoline last summer in the Midwest, the US Federal Trade Commission has told Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.) in a letter. FTC Chairman Robert Pitofsky wrote Tauzin that the agency found no "tacit or explicit collusion among market participants."


By the OGJ Online Staff


WASHINGTON, DC, Mar. 1
�Oil companies did not conspire to drive up the price of gasoline last summer in the Midwest, the US Federal Trade Commission has told Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.) in a letter.

Tauzin, chairman of the House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce Committee, disclosed the contents of the Feb. 26 letter late Wednesday.

FTC Chairman Robert Pitofsky wrote Tauzin that the agency has completed its investigation of the gasoline price spikes and is drafting a report that will go to Congress this summer.

Pitofsky said the report found no "tacit or explicit collusion among market participants" but that the price increases resulted from other factors, "including capacity restraints, production and distribution difficulties, government regulations, and the behavior of industry participants in responding to the gasoline shortage."

At the request of several lawmakers, the agency had investigated allegations by consumer groups that oil companies unfairly raised prices or restricted supplies.

Tauzin said the accusations that oil companies conspired to gouge consumers were "politically motivated and without any merit whatsoever."

He said, "Clearly it's time to quit the fingerpointing and work together to assure that America has a stable and affordable supply of energy for the 21st century."

In a letter to Vice-President Dick Cheney, Tauzin vowed to work with the White House to develop "a common-sense, comprehensive national energy policy that will help to avoid future price spikes for American consumers."

Tauzin said, "It's time to focus on the real causes of higher energy prices, and how government policy can play a more constructive role in addressing them."

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