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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 23, 2007
Attorney General McKenna Announces Investigation of Washington Gas Prices

OLYMPIA – Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna today announced that he is teaming up with the Governor’s Office and the Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development to investigate factors that influence gas prices in the state.

“Washington consumers frequently wonder why gas prices are consistently higher in some areas of the state than others,” McKenna said. “To answer that question and analyze Washington’s current petroleum market generally, the Attorney General’s Office, governor, and CTED are partnering to launch state government’s most comprehensive investigation of that market in 16 years.”

The state expects to publish findings from the first phase of this investigation in July and will share the results during a series of public forums this fall. [Update: A report from the first phase of the study is expected to be released during the week of Aug. 13.]

“This study's findings will give us the information we need to help legislators, county and city executives and other constituents better understand the transportation fuel market, fuel prices and how they affect Washington consumers,” said CTED Director Juli Wilkerson.

The investigation’s first phase will analyze factors that affect pricing patterns in Washington, while the second phase will address any market anomalies that are identified. To assist with the research, state agencies have agreed to retain a University of Washington economist with expertise on the state’s petroleum industry.

McKenna said he looks forward to the public forums as an opportunity to describe significant research findings and to discuss with Washington residents how they can assist the Attorney General’s Office in ensuring gasoline providers are operating within the law.

“Should our research uncover price-fixing or other violations of our state’s consumer protection or antitrust laws, the Attorney General’s Office stands ready to take enforcement action,” McKenna said. “Consumers can help by alerting our office if they overhear a conversation that suggests rival businesses intend to fix or manipulate prices, or if they spot prices that appear out of the ordinary and can’t be explained by obvious supply and demand factors.”

The last comprehensive study on Washington gas prices was published by the state Energy Office (now CTED’s Energy Policy Division) in July 1991. Click here for a copy of the report in PDF format.

The Attorney General’s Antitrust Division collects and analyzes petroleum pricing data every month and publishes a quarterly Gasoline Report that helps explain factors that affect gasoline prices in Washington. The report is available online at http://www.atg.wa.gov/Antitrust/GasPrices/GasolineReport.aspx.

Consumer tips can help federal and state enforcement agencies identify unethical and suspicious corporate behavior when it occurs. Consumers who have evidence of price-fixing or other antitrust violations should file a complaint on the Attorney General’s Web site at http://www.atg.wa.gov/Antitrust/default.aspx. Complaints about price-gouging can be filed with the Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-551-4636 or http://www.atg.wa.gov/FileAComplaint.aspx.

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Media Contact: Kristin Alexander, Public Information Officer, (206) 464-6432

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