Soaring gasoline prices in California have sparked suspicions that the surge was brought on by more than refinery problems.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has called on federal regulators to determine whether “an illegal short squeeze” is responsible for the skyrocketing prices, which reached a record $4.668 on average for a gallon of regular gasoline.
She is joining us for a live video chat at 3 p.m. on the issue with Times consumer columnist David Lazarus. We invite you to join in by leaving comments below.
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In a letter to Jon Leibowitz, chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, Feinstein expressed concern that the agency is “failing to take action to protect California consumers from malicious trading schemes in the California gasoline market.” The latest state-tracked data show fuel supplies near normal, she said, which “appears to confirm that market fundamentals are not to blame for rising gas prices in California,” despite recent pipeline and refinery woes.
Feinstein cited fuel trader reports that Tesoro Corp. was caught short of supply after the Exxon Mobil refinery lost power last week and that sellers may have charged Tesoro a premium “either through collusion or use of market power.”
Analysts said Monday that the pace of price increases is slowing, raising hopes that the upswing could end as early as Monday. On Sunday, Gov. Jerry Brown moved to ease gas-blend requirements to help boost supply.