Florida Opens Formal Anti-Trust Investigation Into Gas Prices

Economists have told him there are signs of price manipulation, and Crist has subpoenaed eight major gas companies.

Tom Evans just tanked up to the tune of $43 and change. Evans is frustrated by the record-high prices, but he doesn’t feel like he has a lot of options.

"Your habits can only be adjusted so much. You still have your life to lead, and you still have your obligations. If transportation is involved, you still have to do that," says Evans.

But $43 a fill up is more than many people can afford, and Florida’s attorney general is concerned someone’s making money at the expense of average citizens. Charlie Crist is opening a formal anti-trust investigation after economists from the University of Florida and Columbia University told him there is evidence of price manipulation.

Charlie Crist, Florida Attorney General, says, “We’re all for people making a profit, there’s nothing wrong with that, but profiteering at the expense of the consumer when families need to get kids to school and you need to get to work and you’d like to go somewhere for Memorial Day Weekend, it’s getting to be a real problem.”

The petroleum industry still blames factors beyond its control. About a dollar from every gallon goes to the record-high cost of crude oil, 50 cents goes to taxes and industry experts say they’re only left with about 30 percent to cover refining, transportation, and wholesale and retail markups.

David Mica of the Florida Petroleum Council says, “In reality there really is not that much room in the situations that we have for manipulation of prices.”

The attorney general is giving the oil companies until June 30 to respond to his subpoenas. The subpoenas issued by Attorney General Charlie Crist ask the gas companies to provide information and records pertaining to the cost of acquisition, production, inventory and the wholesale and retail pricing of gasoline.