Governor critical of gas-price reply - East Valley Tribune: News

Governor critical of gas-price reply

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Posted: Thursday, May 13, 2004 10:00 am | Updated: 6:21 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

May 13,2004

Gov. Janet Napolitano finally got a response this week from the White House on her questions about soaring gasoline prices, but she said it didn’t answer any of her questions.

Stephen Friedman, the assistant to the president for economic policy, said President Bush "will continue to make energy policy a top priority for his administration."

In his letter to the governor, Friedman said the administration is involved in "discussions" with oil producers, but will not comment on the substance of the talks.

And he listed other factors contributing to high prices including low gasoline inventories, high demand, limited refining capacity and the impact of new fuel specifications to cut pollution.

The response met with derision from the governor who had first written to Bush on Feb. 25 asking for answers on the latest price spikes.

At the time, regular gasoline was selling in Arizona for an average of $1.89 a gallon.

"While I appreciate finally hearing from the White House, this is basically just an itemized list of what we already knew," Napolitano said. "In the 10 weeks since I sent my letter, we have no new answers, another spike in gas prices and no immediate end to the spiraling prices in sight."

In that Feb. 25 letter to Bush, Napolitano said Arizonans and others "deserve a complete and credible explanation from the petroleum industry as to why prices have risen so significantly in the last several weeks."

Friedman said the Department of Energy is monitoring markets and that agency and the Federal Trade Commission "are prepared to conduct inquiries, where appropriate, into significant price increases, as they did in the summer of 2003."

Napolitano was not impressed.

"Although the letter mentions that if a violation of anti-trust laws were discovered, the Federal Trade Commission would investigate, it offers no strategy for inquiry or answers," she said.

"What is incredible to me is that at a time when the oil industry is reporting billions in profit, we can’t get anything better than the standard answers," Napolitano said.

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