GAO agrees to look at U.S. refinery practices
The Government Accountability Office has agreed to a request by the Connecticut congressional delegation to look at how refinery practices can drive up gasoline prices.
Lawmakers said Sept. 24 they were concerned that consumers may have been victimized by gas price manipulation. They asked congressional investigators to probe the role refinery outages could have in artificially raising gas prices.
“As oil prices hit record highs and gasoline prices creep upward, due in part to refinery outages, I am determined to protect Connecticut families from gas price manipulation,” said Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., in a statement.
Rep. Joseph Courtney, D-Conn., said he hoped the study would spur stricter oversight of refiners. “Our nation’s refiners have operated with little oversight for decades, and have suffered little recourse for repeated outages and downtime,”
Courtney said in a statement. “Eastern Connecticut’s consumers pay some of the highest prices for fuel in the country and they deserve answers.”
The lawmakers had asked for a GAO study in a May letter that noted that the average retail price of regular gasoline had risen to more than $3.10 per gallon. The GAO review is expected to begin in October, officials said.
“This GAO investigation will shed some light on refining capacity and whether these skyrocketing gas prices are the result of market manipulation,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., in a statement.
Sen. Joe Lieberman blamed government antitrust enforcers for failing to act amid a wave of mergers by refining firms.
“If the federal government’s antitrust enforcers had not stood by as refining companies merged and merged again, then we would have a competitive market to prevent price manipulation,” Lieberman, I-Conn., said in a statement.
—The Associated Press