Berry Calls for Federal Investigation into Gas Prices; Beebe Continues State Probe

SEPTEMBER 9, 2005 - Posted at 3:08 p.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - First District Congressman Marion Berry joined several of his colleagues today in sending a letter to the U.S. Attorney General and the Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission requesting an immediate investigation of the U.S. oil industry.  The letter encourages authorities to look into possible incidents of price gouging in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

"Everywhere I go, I hear concerns from my constituents about the skyrocketing price of gas," said Congressman Berry,  "We have a responsibility to investigate their concerns and prosecute any company that is taking advantage of a national emergency.  We have an opportunity to reign in bad actors and restore America's confidence in our economy."

Immediately following Katrina, gas stations in some parts of the country reported record high prices of $6 per gallon of gas.  Stations throughout northeast Arkansas experienced similar spikes with prices increasing by as much as forty cents per gallon overnight.  Although price increases are directly related to the recent shortage in fuel supply, many are beginning to speculate that the oil industry is also using unfair tactics to drive up the price of gas.

Meanwhile, Arkansas Attorney General Mike Beebe says investigations into reports of potential price gouging are active and will remain on-going.

An estimated 450 calls and e-mails have come into the Attorney General's Office since last week, and investigators are now visiting gas stations and other businesses that may have engaged in illegal pricing tactics.

Beebe has also joined 43 other attorneys general in a multi-state inquiry into the unprecedented spike in gas prices nationwide during the week following the hurricane's landfall.

"The long recovery process is only beginning, and we will continue to watch for businesses that try to take advantage of an on-going emergency," said Beebe,  "I encourage Arkansans to continue reporting suspicious pricing practices to my office."