Sanders Holds Hearing On Gas Prices

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A key U.S. Senate committee will hold a public hearing this afternoon to examine how retail gasoline prices are set in Vermont.

Senator Bernie Sanders says he wants to make certain that a number of gas stations are not colluding to set prices that have been higher than in many parts of New England.

At the beginning of July, gasoline prices in the northwestern part of the state were considerably higher than many other regions of Vermont.

Shortly after Senator Bernie Sanders announced that he was launching an investigation into the matter, the prices came down and Sanders says this development isn’t an accident.

Sanders is a member of the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources committee and he’s arranged for the panel to hold a field hearing in Burlington this afternoon.

Sanders thinks there needs to be more transparency in the gasoline pricing market.

"What impact exists when you have a very small number, I think you have 3 owners who control a majority of the gas stations in the northwest part of the state, what does that mean?" said Sanders. "Is there the kind of vigorous price competition that we need?"

And Sanders wants to know if some of the gasoline retailers worked together to keep prices artificially high.

"They can charge whatever they want but I think what we want to make sure and what is supposed to be having is that there’s supposed to be price competition," said Sanders. "That’s what the free market is about not everybody charging substantially higher prices than exist around the rest of the country or exist around the rest of the state. That is not appropriate."

The field hearing is scheduled to take testimony from a number of witnesses including a representative of the Vermont Petroleum Association and a national expert on pricing trends.

The hearing starts at 2 p.m. Monday at Burlington City Hall.

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