Md. Gas Prices Climbing Towards Record Highs - NBC4 Washington

Md. Gas Prices Climbing Towards Record Highs

AAA asks Attorney General to investigate recent price hike



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    The price of gas in Bethesda, Md. is well above the state average. (May 16, 2011)

    Drivers in Maryland are feeling the pain at the pump; over the weekend into Monday the average price for a gallon of gas reached $4.00, and in many places above that.

    In the wake of consumer complaints, AAA Mid-Atlantic is calling on Maryland’s Attorney General Douglas Gansler to widen a probe into the price spike across the state.

    On Monday, NBC Washington’s Chris Gordon reported that Gansler and other lawmakers in the state were looking into the cause of the recent increases. Though Gansler said the issue is whether it’s the distributor in or the oil company.

    “The problem in Maryland, which they don’t have in Virginia or the District of Columbia, is that we don’t have a price-gouging statute,” Gansler said.

    On Monday the average price reached $4 per gallon, for only the second time in state history. The highest was $4.05 per gallon back in June of 2008.

    AAA Mid-Atlantic hopes the investigation will determine whether fuel distributors, marketers and retail gas stations are violating anti-trust laws.

    The auto club cites several factors for why Maryland is often more expensive than neighboring states:

    • Maryland’s Sales Below Cost Law prevents stations form lowering prices below state-established minimum prices
    • EPA regulations require Maryland stations to sell reformulated gasoline, a cleaner burning blend in both the Baltimore and Washington regions
    • Fuel wholesalers will often charge higher prices to some retail stations depending on incomes of consumers in a particular area
    • Companies that refine gas from operating filling stations cannot operate retail stations, but they can own them as long as they contract to independent franchises

    As of Tuesday, AAA’s Fuel Gauge listed the average cost of gas in Maryland at $3.99 per gallon, but in the Washington suburbs, motorists are still paying above $4 per gallon.