Indiana AG Monitoring Midwest Gas Price Hikes
Campers heading to campgrounds this weekend in the Midwest and filling up at the pump on the way are feeling the squeeze on their wallets, and Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller is working to ensure they and their fellow fuel consumers aren’t being illegally gouged.
According to AAA on Thursday (June 14), Indiana has the seventh highest gas prices in the nation at an average of $3.78 per gallon. The Midwest region is experiencing the same increase, as Michigan has the sixth highest gas prices, Illinois has the 10th highest and Ohio has the 12th, according to a news release.
Zoeller said his office has been monitoring prices and determined the recent spike is due to a drop in the Midwest region’s oil supply after one refinery shut down and three others partially closed – all located in Illinois.
“While prices at the pump have increased so have our office’s efforts to monitor and track fluctuations,” Zoeller said. “It appears that this latest hike is a direct impact of the supply chain being disrupted. It is our hope that once these refineries come back online Hoosiers will start to see a lower price on the retail level.”
The four refineries which experienced decreased capacity combined account for 81 percent of refining capacity in Illinois and Indiana. Zoeller said this continued decrease in supply, on a regional level, has caused the unusual increase in prices for states in the Midwest.
The Wood River refinery, the sixth largest in the country, operated by Marathon is performing annual maintenance earlier than expected this year. In addition, this refinery will be addressing environmental quality issues related to a lawsuit filed by the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.
Zoeller said scheduled partial refinery closings in Illinois include Exxon Mobil in Joliet, Marathon in Robinson and CITGO in Lemont. Indiana’s BP Whiting Refinery, which experienced a partial shutdown from June 1 – 11, is now back online.
The Attorney General’s Office received 65 gas-price related complaints so far this month – with more than 90 percent of those complaints submitted this week alone. Zoeller said this month’s spike in gas-price related complaints is the highest number the office has received in 2012.
Since 2003, the Indiana Attorney General’s Office has watched the price of gasoline sold at the retail level and compared the pump prices to the local and state averages, trading prices on the futures market and other statistical data.
Zoeller said his office has authority over retail price gouging only and the Federal Trade Commission has jurisdiction over wholesale price gouging. Illegal pricing activities can include agreements between retailers to fix prices, deceptive sales acts or excessive prices during a state of emergency.
Hoosiers who want to report suspected price gouging at retail stations can do so by calling the Attorney General’s Office hotline toll-free at (866) 241-9753.
For more information about how the Attorney General’s Office tracks gas prices, visit www.indianaconsumer.com and click on “Gasoline Prices” in the menu. Driving efficiency tips and a gas savings calculator are available on the website to help drivers determine the potential savings by increasing fuel efficiency.