More on the FTC and Western New York Gasoline Prices

Michael Giberson

Following up on the earlier post, a recent FTC document details the agency’s activities addressing the oil and gas industry during the first six months of 2009.

Of the investigation into gasoline prices in Western New York, the FTC said:

The Commission’s work involving oil and natural gas also includes the examination of possibly anticompetitive conduct by firms in these industries. A prominent example of this type of activity was the Commission’s investigation of gasoline prices in Western New York and Vermont that began during the fall of 2008. Alerted both by Congressional expressions of concern and by its own Gasoline and Diesel Price Monitoring Project (described in more detail, infra), the Commission conducted a detailed examination of the reasons for higher-than-expected gasoline prices in and around Buffalo and in Northern Vermont. Following a six-month investigation, the Commission found substantial evidence that the prices were unlikely to have been caused by law violations. In response to Members’ requests, the Commission also noted various possible proposals that have been raised in the public discussion on addressing concerns about gasoline prices.

So the FTC clearly states it has conducted an extensive, six-month investigation that “found substantial evidence that the prices were unlikely to have been caused by law violations,” but so far as I have been able to tell the end result was just a letter sent to a few members of Congress, not a publicly-released written report as called for by the interested members of Congress.

5 thoughts on “More on the FTC and Western New York Gasoline Prices

  1. They are working on it. It will be completed real soon now. If they have to spend all their time explaining to you that they are working on it, it will keep them from working on it. So, just go away and eat your government cheese.

  2. I love this substantial evidence of a negative result. Certainly the evidence, if substantial, must have at least suggested some other cause.

  3. I’m looking forward to seeing this evidence, that’s one reason I’d like to see the report. (Plus I have a research effort going that involves New York gasoline prices, so I’d like to see what data and results they have to supplement that effort, too.)

  4. As someone that lives in Western New York the Congressman who initiated the investigation publicized the findings and the local news outlets reported it. Of course the angle of his press release and the reporting was that there must be collusion even if the FTC couldn’t prove it.

    His press release announcing that he had asked the FTC to investigates stated that taxes don’t explain why are prices are higher here. Even though gasoline taxes are higher in NY than the neighboring states and the national average.

    The congressman is a Democrat but to pick on both parties, the county legislator also expressed concerns about potential price gouging. A republican on the legislator commented that disposable income is going down here and no one knows why — blaming high gasoline prices for the decline. He didn’t realize disposable income is income after tax.

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