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Mass. lawmaker wants gas price probe

Oct. 15, 2012 at 8:40 AM

BOSTON, Oct. 15 (UPI) -- A Massachusetts congressman called on federal regulators to examine "abnormalities in the gasoline markets" given high gasoline prices in the region.

U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate potential price fixing in the New England retail gasoline sector.

"It is critical that any abnormalities in the gasoline markets be dealt with immediately," his letter read.

Motor group AAA reports that Massachusetts drivers Monday paid on average $3.89 for a gallon of regular unleaded, compared to a national average of $3.78. Some retail prices in the state were as high as $3.93.

New England refiners typically use Brent crude, an overseas blend. Analysts told the Boston Globe that higher prices for imported crude oil were contributing to higher gasoline prices in New England.

Joe Petrowski, chief executive of the Cumberland Farms Gulf Oil Group, told the newspaper the possibility for regional price manipulation "are nil."

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., recently issued similar complaints with the FTC when gasoline prices in her state approached the $5 mark because of refinery issues. The average price for a gallon of gas there was $4.60, down 6 cents compared to last week.

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