Office of the Attorney General
Attorney General Stumbo Subpoenas Gas Refiners - Gas Price Investigation Heats Up
Attorney General Greg Stumbo today announced that his office has subpoenaed thirteen petroleum refiners and middlemen demanding gas price data during the State of Emergency in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. He has also issued subpoenas to 30 Kentucky retail gas stations demanding justification for the increased prices charged to consumers during the same period.
“Across the board, profits by big oil companies strongly suggest possible price gouging,” Stumbo said. “My office also suspects profiteering by retailers and suppliers since gas prices rose dramatically following the hurricanes.”
On August 29, 2005, the Attorney General urged Governor Fletcher to declare a state of emergency and implement the Kentucky Price Gouging law, KRS 367.372-378, and a declaration was issued later that day implementing the law. Under Kentucky’s law, no supplier of essential consumer products, including gasoline, may sell the products “for a price which is grossly in excess of the price charged prior to the declaration and unrelated to any increased cost to seller.” On September 1, 2005 Attorney General Stumbo sent letters to oil refiners and marketers urging restraint during the time of emergency.
Also in September, the Attorney General established a consumer hotline and email address to field reports of possible price gouging. To date, more than 600 complaints have been reviewed. In January, 2006, Attorney General Stumbo hired an expert witness in petroleum matters to assist in the investigation.
Attorney General Stumbo continues his work with national and regional task forces of Attorneys General to determine if state or federal laws have been violated in connection with the increased gasoline prices. “The information we have gathered so far strongly suggests that oil refiners and middlemen have taken advantage of a national crisis and consumers are paying the price at the pump,” said Stumbo.
Attorney General Stumbo’s investigation is ongoing. Individuals who suspect gas price gouging can email the Office at firstname.lastname@example.org. If computer access is not available, consumers can call 1-888-432-9257