FTC Finds Some Gas Price Gouging After Katrina, No Widespread Market Manipulation

The Federal Trade Commission says that while it found there was gasoline price gouging after Hurricane Katrina, it hasn't identified any widespread oil industry effort to manipulate the marketplace illegally.

In a report to Congress, the F-T-C says there was price gouging by seven refiners, two wholesalers and six retailers. They attributed their soaring prices to what were termed "regional or local market trends." The commission defines price gouging as "any finding" that the average price of gasoline in designated disaster areas in September 2005 was higher than the month before. The F-T-C also says it found no evidence that the oil industry intentionally held back refining capacity to keep supplies artificially tight. Congress demanded the investigations after Hurricane Katrina severely disrupted the flow of oil and natural-gas in the Gulf of Mexico and also caused the shutdown of onshore refineries and pipelines.

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