N.C. Legislature May Force Consumers To Pay Higher Gas Prices
Posted May 23, 2003
RALEIGH, N.C. — The
North Carolina Petroleum Marketers Association
is backing legislation in the
that would make it illegal to sell gas significantly below cost. If that bill becomes law, many fear it will fuel a price increase.
"Let the gas prices stay the way they are and let the businesses run their business the way they're running them so I can afford my gas," customer John Ristau said.
"I don't think you'll see any difference in prices," said Gary Harris, of the state Petroleum Marketers Association. "The main thing that impacts prices in North Carolina are motor fuel taxes."
Economists say the legislation could be in direct conflict with a free market.
"One approach would say it's no business of the General Assembly. Let the market work, let the players sort themselves out. Let there be winners and losers," said Mike Walden, an economist at N.C. State.
Most people at the pump say they will be the losers if the state gets into the business of how low can gas prices go.
"They think they're trying to help the consumer, but in the long run, they're actually hurting the consumer," Ristau said.
There are already laws regulating gas prices in North Carolina. The bill would set a new, clear benchmark to determine if a low gas price is breaking the law. The
Federal Trade Commission
says the bill will increase prices.