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AG Morrisey responds to request to investigate gas prices

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey responded to a request from Senate Democrats to look into high gas prices in the state.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in a video statement on July 25, 2017
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in a video statement on July 25, 2017(WHSV)
Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 10:31 AM EST
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BRIDGEPORT, W.Va (WDTV) - Attorney General Patrick Morrisey responded to a request from West Virginia Senate Democrats to look into high gas prices in the Mountain State.

Attorney General Morrisey sent a letter outlining his response to the Dec. 15 request on Wednesday.

The Attorney General raised concerns that national-level policies were partially responsible for higher gas prices.

Attorney General Morrisey told lawmakers the Biden administration kept U.S. production of crude oil from expanding and strained the supply for refined products like gasoline.

The Biden administration has proposed new methane regulations on oil and gas producers, which Morrisey said should not be implemented if the president is committed to reducing gasoline prices.

“We are currently experiencing a surge in demand for gasoline products while the supplies have been less than anticipated. Thus, prices go up,” Attorney General Morrisey wrote. “As the economy continues its recovery, and supply chains return to normal patterns, short term swings in the available supply of gasoline for the demand will likely reach an equilibrium. If unlawful, anti-competitive activity is detected in the retail gasoline industry, my office will take appropriate action.”

The letter from the senators to the Attorney General suggested price gouging may be occurring in some places when it comes to gasoline prices.

However, since the Governor exempted most consumer goods from his declaration of a State of Emergency, price gouging laws do not apply and businesses remain generally free to price their products without government intervention, according to Attorney General Morrisey.

In the long term, Morrisey said prices for gasoline generally follow the prices for crude oil.

Many factors are involved when it comes to gas prices according to Morrisey, including the price of oil in the world market, wholesale or rack prices, taxes, reserve levels, distribution bottlenecks, weather events and domestic and international news events.

The Attorney General said he believes some of those factors may be addressed by the West Virginia Legislature, such as the taxes that are levied on motor fuel in the state.

Morrisey said if the Legislature lowered the tax burden on gasoline in West Virginia, it would make retailers more competitive with their counterparts in bordering states.

You can read a copy of the Attorney General’s response letter here.

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