Column: Gas prices continue to soar

By Sen. Joe Hune
March 19, 2014

Gas prices recently have begun to climb yet again. It is my firm belief that to have the most business-friendly environment in Michigan we must make gas prices affordable for individuals and businesses alike.

Do you feel like you are being gouged with these ever-increasing prices? Over the last few years, gasoline prices in Michigan have fluctuated dramatically, and the attorney general has taken action when circumstances warrant it.

The attorney general’s office constantly monitors gas prices to protect consumers from price fixing and price gouging. Recently, Attorney General Schuette has published on his website a list of commonly asked questions and answers on the elevating gas prices.

Here is some of what the attorney general stated:

Question:  Why do gas prices keep fluctuating?

Many factors play a role in the cost of a gallon of gasoline, including the cost of crude oil, refinery processing, transportation, distribution, marketing, operating expenses, retail station operations, and taxes.  The prices we pay at the pump reflect these costs, as well as the profits (or losses) of refiners, marketers, distributors, and retail station owners.

Question:  When the price of gasoline increases dramatically, who is it that benefits from the price increases?

The attorney general's office reviews daily retail profit margins and actual cost of providing gasoline products to the consumer throughout the state of Michigan. Historically, gas retailers (such as corner gas station owners) have not appeared to profit from high prices. Instead, high profits have been extracted by refiners and producers farther up the supply chain.

Schuette and the Republican-led Michigan Legislature remain committed to fighting higher gasoline prices in court when those price increases violate the law. If you become aware of direct evidence of a conspiracy between companies, or have verifiable evidence of a retailer charging a price “grossly in excess of the price at which similar property or services are sold,” please contact:

Consumer Protection Division
P.O. Box 30213
Lansing, MI 48909
Phone: 517-373-1140
Toll-free within Michigan: 1-877-765-8388
Fax: 517-241-3771
www.michigan.gov/ag (online complaint form)

If you have any further questions please email my office at SenJHune@senate.michigan.gov or dial toll-free 1-855-563-4863 and my staff will be happy to assist you.

Sen. Joe Hune is chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. He represents the 22nd state Senate District, which includes Livingston and Shiawassee counties, and the southern part of Ingham County. The Ingham County portion includes Bunkerhill, Leslie, Stockbridge and Vevay townships, and the cities of Leslie and Mason.