The Washington Times reports on the results of Federal Trade Commission investigations into allegations of price gouging.
In a report responding to three congressional measures asking for price-gouging investigations, the independent antitrust agency said it issued 139 civil subpoenas, examined thousands of documents and talked with 65 industry officials in concluding that no widespread collusion or market manipulation occurred to push up oil and gasoline prices and keep them high.
The commission, whose five members were appointed by President Bush, concluded that the fuel markets responded as they should have to the temporary but complete wipe-out of oil production facilities on the Gulf Coast, with rising prices encouraging increased production and conservation, refineries and wholesalers dipping into their inventories to supply thirsty markets, facilities not damaged by the hurricanes operating at full tilt to ramp up supplies, and oil imports flooding in.
The FTC said it found 15 cases -- seven refineries, two wholesalers and six independent retailers -- whose prices fit lawmakers' definition of price gouging and possibly were out of line. Further investigation determined that prices charged by all but one retailer were similar to what competitors in their markets charged.