Sen. Feinstein calls for FTC investigation into high Calif. gas prices

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) says federal regulators need to investigate whether gasoline companies are illegally coordinating price increases in California.

Feinstein wants the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to probe gasoline wholesalers after prices for a premium blend of gasoline shot up 97 cents per gallon last week. She says gasoline traders might have maliciously shorted the market, a claim those traders denied.

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Specifically, Feinstein wants the FTC to create a permanent oversight committee to monitor oil markets and gasoline prices. She also wants the FTC to enhance its gasoline and oil market data collection and analysis.

“California’s consumers are all too familiar with energy price spikes which cannot be explained by market fundamentals, and which turn out years later to have been the result of malicious and manipulative trading activity,” Feinstein wrote Sunday in a letter to FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz.

Feinstein made similar requests of the FTC in August, when California gas prices averaged $4.13 per gallon compared with a national average of $3.76. Last week, prices hit nearly $5 per gallon.