State needs answers on gas prices

Guest Editorial
Michigan’s extraordinary gasoline price increase has garnered state officials’ attention. Instead of Gov. Rick Snyder or state Attorney General Bill Schuette, Democratic lawmakers are the ones who sounded the alarm.

It is disappointing that the state Legislature’s minority party is calling for an investigation into soaring gas prices. The demand should be bipartisan. In fact, Michigan’s Republican governor and attorney general shouldn’t have waited on lawmakers. Given the shocking increase at the pumps that confronted Michigan motorists this month, Schuette should have initiated the investigation and Snyder should have pledged his support.

Michigan’s average gasoline prices shot up to $4.10 per gallon, a sudden increase of at least 23 cents. The price jump was 47 cents more than the same time last year, according to AAA Michigan. Last week, pump prices rose to $4.29 per gallon.

The increases made our state’s gasoline prices the nation’s second-highest. Only Hawaii consumers pay more at the pump.

In a news conference Tuesday at the state capitol, Democratic legislators did what all state leaders should have a done: They demanded that the attorney general investigate the price spike.

The issue isn’t a partisan one. Michigan’s high gas prices affect any state motorist who shows up at the pump.

It’s not only the sudden price increase. It’s the lack of a credible explanation. Maintenance issues stopped production at two major facilities — the B.P. Whiting refinery in Whiting, Ind., and the Exxon Mobile refinery in Joliet, Ill. Consumers find it hard to believe that Michigan gasoline prices soared by the same percentage at the same time as a result.

Up to the Democrats’ call that he do something, Schuette has been conspicuously silent on the gas price escalation. The attorney general released the following statement:

“If consumers become aware of direct evidence of a conspiracy between companies, or have verifiable evidence of a retailer charging a price ‘grossly in excess of the price at which similar property or services are sold,’ they are encouraged to contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-877-765-8388 or file an online complaint at www.michigan.gov/ag.”

That’s pretty lame for the state’s top law enforcement officer — and for the majority of the state’s elected leaders.

— TIMES HERALD (PORT HURON)

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