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    AGs Across the Nation Investigate Gas Price Gouging

    Reports from Arizona and Washington show that it is difficult for authorities to prove consumers are being ripped off.

    Attorneys general in at least nine states, responding to outrage by their residents, are investigating whether current high gasoline prices are a result of wrongdoing by the petroleum industry, reported the National Association of Attorneys General in a USA Today report.

    Arizona's statewide average price is $3.022, still nearly 11 cents less than the record $3.131 shortly after Katrina, according to travel club AAA's daily survey.
    Washington's average $3.011 Monday set a record for that state.

    Arizona's comprehensive investigation into that state's high fuel prices after Hurricane Katrina concludes that while there was "profiteering" at all levels of the oil industry, nothing illegal took place, according to USA Today .

    Washington's attorney general's office said in a report last week that its more recent investigation of today's high prices "has not found any evidence so far of illegal activity among gasoline retailers or producers in Washington."

    Together, the two reports show that it is hard for authorities to prove consumers are being ripped off even in times of extraordinary price increases, reported the newspaper.

    The attorney general in California, where the statewide average hit a record $3.251 a gallon Monday, said in the report he will subpoena documents from the state's 21 refineries, including those operated by major oil companies ChevronTexaco, ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips.

    The attorney general's office said state data for 2006 show that crude oil prices have risen 14 percent but the difference between what oil companies pay for crude oil and prices at the pump has soared 130 percent, according to USA Today .

    According to the newspaper, Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna, in a statement about his investigation, said, "Gas prices are influenced by the basic laws of supply and demand."

    Some states have made price-gouging cases. Florida sued individual gas stations for overcharging after Katrina.

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