Gas is up 40 cents per gallon in WA state over last month, burdening families and economic recovery. Senator Maria Cantwell wants to know why volatile gas prices not linked to supply-and-demand fundamentals, role of Wall Street speculation and possible price manipulation.

Today, Senator Maria Cantwell  demanded federal regulators use the authority she granted them in 2007 to ensure skyrocketing prices at the gas pump are not the result of market manipulation or other anticompetitive behavior. 

 According to AAA figures, Washington state gas prices have gone up 40 cents-per-gallon in just the last month, hurting small business and burdening families and the economic recovery. Every $0.50 increase in gas prices costs Washington households one percent of their annual income, on average, or roughly $565 using 2010 average household income numbers. In the Seattle area, gas prices have risen nearly 60 cents per gallon over the past three months, and diesel prices are a dollar more per gallon over this time last year, hitting truckers, farmers, and transit services particularly hard.  

 “While oil speculators on Wall Street may be profiting from Middle East turmoil, Washington families and businesses on Main Street are footing the bill at the gas pump,” Senator Cantwell said. “Unlike when gas prices spiked suspiciously in the summer of 2008, the Federal Trade Commission now has the necessary tools to be the cop on the beat protecting consumers from artificial gas price hikes. Today, I’m calling for the FTC to put those tools to use to protect families and businesses across the country.”