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2nd Gas Price Hearing Scheduled for Thursday


October 21, 2008

(SitNews) - The Alaska State House Judiciary Committee will hold its second hearing into the high prices of gasoline in Alaska on Thursday, October 23rd from 9:30 a.m. till 4:00 p.m., at the Anchorage Legislative Information Office. Interested Alaskans around the state will be able to attend this public hearing at their local Legislative Information Office (LIO).

"Alaskans are rightfully upset about the high prices they are paying at the pump in comparison to the rest of the country," said Rep. Jay Ramras, R-Fairbanks, the committee's chairman. "As of today, the national average for regular gasoline is $2.92 per gallon. The average price in Alaska for a gallon of regular gasoline is $3.89. The House Judiciary Committee will continue looking into this price disparity and will address what the legislature can do to effectively bring down the price of gas at the pump.

"The committee determined at its first meeting that there are the only two refineries producing gasoline in Alaska. Therefore, the refineries effectively have a duopoly in this state. Additionally, the Southeast communities receive their gasoline by barge and their fuel is exceptionally high priced. Currently, Alaska has no price-gouging statutes and Alaska's anti-trust laws only come into effect when refiners are in collusion to set prices."

The State Attorney General's Office has a separate investigation underway. The AG's office is able to access confidential and propriety information that is unavailable to the legislature. However, the legislature will continue to do its job and consider statutory changes. "Hopefully, both branches of government working together can bring some relief to Alaskans," added Ramras. "The committee will press forward, holding monthly meetings on this subject and use the public process, until the price of gasoline achieves a re-coupling with the prices in the Lower 48."

Around the state, the public is encouraged to attend this hearing at their local Legislative Information Office. Invited testimony only will be taken at Thursday's meeting; however, public testimony will be taken at the November meeting.

The public hearing will be held Thursday, October 23rd from 9:30 a.m. till 4:00 p.m.

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Ketchikan, Alaska