Cantwell Glad FTC Investigating Oil Markets

By:  Kalae Chock, KXLY4 News
Source: KXLY4 News

SPOKANE, Wash. -

You're not the only one fed up with high gas prices. The government doesn't like it either and is now stepping in to find out if the oil market is being manipulated to drive up the price.

The Federal Trade Commission says prices shouldn't be this high if fair market principals are being applied, and that's why Tuesday it announced it's launching an investigation into the oil market.

With a national average of $3.69 for a gallon of gas, and drivers in Spokane paying a dime more than that, the FTC's announcement is welcome news.

"I think they really should look into this because you know we're paying a lot of taxes right now and something should be done about this," driver Joe Hall said.

Washington Senator Maria Cantwell urged the government to make the move to launch the investigation.

"I'm glad the FTC is going to investigate oil markets and give consumers more confidence that these markets are operating the way they should," Senator Cantwell said Tuesday.

With a barrel of oil costing $70 right now, Senator Cantwell says drivers should be paying closer to $2.50 a gallon for gas.

"Right now the American public has a great deal of doubt on whether oil really is based on that because demand is down and that supply is there and yet the prices haven't really fallen," she said.

The FTC now has the authority to use subpoenas to investigate oil producers, refiners, transporters and traders to make sure they're not manipulating the market. A federal ban on oil manipulation now gives the FTC the green light to levy civil penalties of up to $1 Million a day.

"There's real savings there for Spokane drivers and others, who don't want to see a higher gas price than necessary," Senator Cantwell said.

There's no timeline on how long this investigation will take, which means we don't know when we can hope to see prices fall if investigators do in fact find the market is being manipulated.