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Rep. Larsen supports investigation on high gas prices

Congressman Rick Larsen has added his support to a federal examination to determine if gas prices are being manipulated.

Larsen, U.S. Rep.-2nd District, said the Department of Justice's creation of the "Oil and Gas Price Fraud Working Group" was a step in the right direction.

“Last week, the President announced the formation of an Oil and Gas Price Fraud Working Group. This group must take a hard look at the manipulation of gas prices – determining where and when any fraud of prices took place," Larsen said. "We must make sure that every effort is being taken to identify and halt speculation."

Gas prices continue to hover above the $4-per-gallon mark on South Whidbey. The price for a gallon of regular gas climbed past $4 on April 16 on the South End, and the cost has continued to rise.

On Thursday, a gallon of regular gas cost $4.159 at the Clinton Square Chevron, and was also $4.159 at Naomi's Self Serve Valero farther north on Highway 525.

The average price of a gallon of regular gas in Washington state was $3.961 Thursday, up from $3.954 on Wednesday. A month ago, the average price for a gallon of regular gas in the state was $3.777, and a year ago, the price was $3.096.

Elsewhere in Washington, the average price of a gallon of regular gas Thursday was $4.060 in Bellingham, $3.992 in Olympia, $3.989 in the Seattle-Everett-Bellevue area, and $3.802 in Spokane.

“All across Washington, families and small businesses are once again struggling to meet the demanding budget strain caused by skyrocketing gas prices," Larsen said. "When gas prices hit record highs three years ago, I voted in favor of the creation of a task force similar to the one now being formed. I expect this group to present a complete picture to the President and hope any findings of manipulation will be swiftly addressed by the administration and by Congress."

President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder announced the formation of the Oil and Gas Price Fraud Working Group on Aug. 21.

In his memo outlining the group (http://www.justice.gov/ag/AG_Memo_to_FFETF-Gas_Prices.pdf) Holder called for the exploration of “whether there is any evidence of manipulation of oil and gas prices, collusion, fraud or misinterpretations at the retail or wholesale levels that would violate state or federal laws and that has harmed consumers" and the evaluation of “the role of speculators and index traders in oil futures markets.”

Larsen, a Democrat, said an answer to the high cost of gas won't be found quickly.

“There is no simple fix or solution for rising gas prices. We must crack down on speculators, but ultimately long-term investments and policy changes are the only way to stabilize our energy future," Larsen said. "I will continue to listen and work with my constituents to address their needs. This situation affects all of us and we must take the necessary steps to end the cycle.”

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