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MILWAUKEE -- Soaring gasoline prices across Wisconsin prompted a lawmaker to seek an investigation into whether consumers are being victimized by oil companies.
The Associated Press reports that State Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, sent his request to Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager and asked that she determine whether major oil refiners cut production to drive prices up by reducing the fuel supply.
"If this is true, such actions could be in violation of the law,'' Hansen told Lautenschlager in a letter. He called the recent increases in gasoline prices "outrageous.''
The average price for unleaded regular gasoline was $2.70 a gallon at 10 stations in the Milwaukee area Monday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said.
Lautenschlager spokesman Kelly Kennedy said that Hansen's letter was being reviewed by the attorney general.
Erin Roth, executive director of the Wisconsin Petroleum Council, said holding down production at times of high prices wouldn't make any sense.
"With prices this high, you want to make as much (gas) as you can, because every gallon is profit,'' Roth said.
Roth said the oil industry's profitability remains below the U.S. average. He said many previous state and federal investigations have found no evidence of anything but market forces at work in pushing gasoline prices higher.
The AP reported that both Roth and AAA Wisconsin spokesman Mike Bie said prices could decline once the demand for gasoline drops after Labor Day, the traditional end of the summer vacation season.
But they said crude oil prices are unpredictable and could prevent a gas price drop.