Sen.: Gas price spike worth investigating

Aug. 29, 2012 at 6:31 AM

SACRAMENTO, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- A California lawmaker said in a letter to federal regulators that there was no reduction in gasoline supplies that warranted a rise in retail prices.

A fire erupted at Chevron's oil refinery in Richmond, Calif., Aug. 6, forcing the company to shut down part of the refinery that produces petroleum products. California has since experienced some of the sharpest price increases in retail prices for gasoline in the country.

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., sent a letter to Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz calling for an investigation into gasoline prices in her state.

"The recent price spike began on Aug. 6th, when a refinery fire at Chevron's Richmond Refinery reduced refining capacity at the state's third largest refinery," her letter read. "However, this dangerous incident has not resulted in a reduction of gasoline supply that would explain the recent rapid price increase."

Motor group AAA reports commuters in San Francisco paid $4.22 for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline Wednesday, up 3 cents compared to last week and 42 cents more than the national average. Gasoline prices in the state were around $3.88 at the time of the fire.

ABC7 News in San Francisco reported that a small flare-up was confirmed at a unit of the refinery Tuesday morning.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board said it was investigating the incident with the help of California regulators and Chevron.

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