Federal effort growing to crack down on gas price gouging nationwide

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Prices are still soaring as you fill up your tank and more lawmakers are calling for the Federal Trade Commission to investigate companies engaging in gas price gouging.

This comes as AAA reports the national average for gas is $4.22 for regular gas which is an increase of nearly 10 cents from the week before.

“We’ve heard their stories about the rising cost of gas and we just want to make sure that we’re in a fair market,” said Rep. Val Demings, (D) Florida.

Congresswoman Demings said she’s working on new legislation that isn’t just about the FTC investigating price gouging, she said it’s about evaluating potential mergers and the impact on competitiveness in the market.

“We do want to know the causes and effects and have a clear understanding of when the consumer pulls up to the gas pump, why are they paying more for gas than they did in the previous decade,” said Demings. “So that is our responsibility, and it’s about holding people accountable.”

The proposal would also require the FTC to draft a long-term strategy for stabilizing oil and gas prices during a national crisis.

But members of the American Petroleum Institute (API) say price gouging isn’t happening.

“The oil and gas industry are price takers, and not price makers,” said Frank Macchiarola, Senior VP of Policy for the American Petroleum Institute (API).

Macchiarola said gas prices are set by crude oil prices globally which is in high demand right now.

Additionally, the API said there are other ways the Biden Administration could address gas supply challenges.

“[Biden Administration] can send a signal to the marketplace that America is open for oil and natural gas investment,” said Macchiarola. “They can do is provide access by allowing for the development of oil and gas on federal lands and waters.”

Some federal lawmakers believe the FTC needs more tools to crack down on price gouging like harsher fines and a team of experts to monitor the market.