Calif. to investigate whether gas stations are fixing prices

Politics
Data pix.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Gov. Gavin Newsom has asked the state attorney general to look into whether California's oil and gas suppliers are using unfair practices to maintain the state's surging gas prices.

In a letter to State Attorney General Xavier Becerra Monday, the governor urged an investigation into retailers that may be "misleading and overcharging customers."

Newsom cited a study from the California Energy Commission, which he asked to look into why Californians pay a premium at the pump. The governor says the study found that name-brand gas retailers in the state -- such as Chevron, Shell, Exxon or Mobil -- charge more than unbranded gas-marts, despite no "evidence that gasoline sold by less expensive, unbranded outlets is in any way inferior."

“While this practice is not necessarily illegal, it may be an effort of a segment of the market to artificially inflate prices to the detriment of California consumers and could account for at least part of the price differential,” the commision wrote in a memo after their study.

“Consumers may be purchasing higher-priced gasoline brands for convenience, credit card acceptance, or other reasons. However, if competitors decide collectively to fix prices, this may be unlawful.”

Referring to the increased prices as a "mystery surcharge," Newsom suggested that name-brands may even be collaborating to fix their prices or engaging in "other anti-competitive practices" to artificially keep prices high.

"If oil companies are engaging in false advertising or price fixing, then legal action should be taken to protect the public," Newsom wrote.

FOX 5 Voter Guide

Most Popular Stories

Latest News

More News