Investigate Oil Company Price Gouging!
We urge American citizens to ask President Bush to direct the Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department to investigate possible price gouging by the oil companies. Since current crude oil supplies appear adequate, we believe that the oil companies may have manipulated oil refinery production and inventories to drive up gasoline prices. House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL), Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), and many Democratic leaders have also asked President Bush to conduct such an investigation. Many consumers are being hurt by high gasoline prices. It has made it very expensive for them to commute to work, and many may have to curtail family vacations this summer if gasoline prices stay high. Lower income consumers and retirees on fixed incomes are particularly harmed. The high price of fuel is also hurting small businesses, and will soon affect the entire American economy as higher manufacturing and transportation costs show up in stores. The oil companies appear to be taking no action to offset the rapid increase in gasoline prices, which are hurting both consumers and businesses. Despite gasoline prices that are over $3.00 a gallon in many areas, U.S. oil refiners operated at 85 percent of capacity in the week ended April 7. This is 13 percentage points less than between April and September 1998. At the same time the oil companies have reaped huge profit increases in the last several years, and Exxon Mobil\'s chief executive in January received a lump-sum retirement payment of $98.5 million. Oil price increases are not being felt just at the gas pump. Crude oil is refined into many products, including fuel oil, which increased in price dramatically last winter. American homeowners paid an average 13.6 percent more to heat their homes last winter. It could have been much worse