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California probing gas price gouging after Katrina; NM leaders draft profiteering ban

[JURIST] California Attorney General Bill Lockyer [official profile] Friday opened an investigation into whether gasoline retailers in the state had participated in illegal profiteering in the wake of Hurricane Katrina [JURIST news archive]. Lockyer said his office would subpoena records from refiners and station owners and set up an e-mail address, gaspricinghotline@doj.ca.gov, where people can submit information about pricing practices. Lockyer said the state received little of its gasoline supply from those affected by Katrina, so price spikes should not affect the state as much as other regions of the country. A California law prohibits gasoline retailers from unduly raising prices by more than 10 percent during government-declared emergencies. Read a news release from Lockyer's office. In New Mexico, Gov. Bill Richardson [official profile] and Attorney General Patricia Madrid [official profile] said they were drafting legislation [New Mexico Business Weekly report] to investigate and punish gas retailers that engage in illegal profiteering after natural disasters. Read a joint news release from their offices. A ban on price gouging already exists in Louisiana under section 732 [text] of the Louisiana Homeland Security and Emergency Assistance and Disaster Act 1993. In an effort to fight rising gas prices across the country, the US has tapped into its reserves [Los Angeles Times report] and received pledges from the International Energy Agency for additional supplies. AP has more.

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