SF Chronicle: Gas prices — set by market or manipulation?


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Editorial

It’s a standard element of American politics: Gas prices are an evergreen subject of politicians’ campaign rhetoric, the standard measure of Americans’ economic worries and the weapon with which to wage war on unseen corporate evil-doers. Countless investigations on oil price manipulations have been ordered, but the smoking gun is never found.

Senators ask U.S. to probe California gasoline prices

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Six U.S. senators on Tuesday called for the U.S. Justice Department to investigate whether market manipulation by West Coast oil refiners contributed to a price spike in May and October that sent gasoline prices to record highs above $5 a gallon.

The senators, all Democrats, want the Justice Department to conduct a “refinery-by-refinery probe” and subpoena records from California refineries to see whether public reports of maintenance shutdowns were accurate. Two of the state’s largest refiners are Valero Energy Corp and Tesoro Corp.

Rachel Maddow Investigates Gas Price Manipulation in CA [VIDEO]

Rachel Maddow: “What was it about the price spike in May and then again in October that seemed suspicious to you? Is there something that tipped you off to start questioning whether or not that was a legitimate price spike just explained by supply and demand?”

Senator Maria Cantwell: “Well, my constituents tipped me off that they were frustrated gas was going towards $5. What they knew is that one refinery went down, but why was everybody else saying that they were offline or a lot of the market response basically saying the price spike was caused by a shortage? We want the FTC and the Department of Justice to be the policeman on the beat on something so important as gas.