State won’t investigate mountain gas prices
SUMMIT COUNTY – As State Rep. Gary Lindstrom stood next to his car at a Golden gas station on Saturday taking advantage of the $2.10 per gallon price, he saw a tanker truck parked across the lot.
Approaching the driver, Lindstrom, whose district includes Eagle and Summit counties, introduced himself and started asking questions.On Monday, Lindstrom sent a letter to state Attorney General John Suthers asking that Suthers’ office look into “possible price fixing and price gouging” in Summit, Lake and Eagle counties on the part of gasoline retailers. Suthers turned down the request. In a written statement, Suthers said “high prices alone do not suggest or prove illegal conduct by gasoline retailers,” adding that his office needs to be presented with evidence of a conspiracy among retailers before undertaking an antitrust investigation.
At the Golden gas station Lindstrom told the trucker that, at 50 additional cents per gallon, his 8,500-gallon tanker was carrying thousands of dollars of profit more than those delivering to the Front Range. The driver started laughing, saying that money’s not going to truckers. “He was obviously a very honest and straightforward person,” Lindstrom said. “He doesn’t have anything to do with pricing, but he was quite honestly flabbergasted that one load of his fuel would result in $4,000 worth of additional profit. He knows that when he fills up at the refinery, they charge the same amount whether his load is going to Strasburg or it’s going to Breckenridge.”
It’s that uniform refinery charge that runs through Lindstrom’s frustrated mind each time he travels from Summit County to the Denver metro area, watching the gasoline prices drop consistently along with the elevation, he said. “If the attorney general doesn’t think that every gas station in three counties having higher than normal gasoline costs isn’t evidence of a conspiracy, I don’t know what is, but I’ll take a look at it and pursue legislation,” Lindstrom said. “I would prefer to have voluntary compliance, but if they’re not going to do it voluntarily we’re going to have to find some way to do it legislatively.” Lindstrom said any new actions are unlikely between now and Jan. 12, when the state Legislature is back in session. He hopes that any proposed bill can “come up with a formula that would require retailers to be more reasonable” in their pricing, he said.