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Reynolds wants FTC to widen gas probe

Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds has called on the Federal Trade Commission to widen its investigation of possible gouging after recent spikes in the price of gasoline.

During a news conference Monday in his Amherst district office, the Clarence Republican did not specifically accuse anyone of unfairly inflating gasoline prices. But he said he wants the recent spike examined and warned that price gouging resulting from Hurricane Katrina "will not be tolerated."

"We understand supply and infrastructure issues related to Hurricane Katrina [are] contributing to high gas prices," Reynolds wrote Deborah Platt Majoras, FTC chairwoman. "However, we also have a responsibility to examine industry practices to ensure Americans don't fall victim to price gouging."

The congressman noted that the Energy Policy Act of 2005 already has directed the commission to probe price gouging and other market practices, and he called on the FTC to release its preliminary results.

He said he was particularly interested in why prices jumped 73 cents per gallon at independent stations but only 44 cents per gallon at stations associated with major refiners.

"That's a large discrepancy," Reynolds said. "That's why I'm asking the FTC to look into it."

Reynolds said he hopes the crisis will spur the federal government to deal with an increasing dependence on foreign oil, which he put at 56 percent, with a projected increase to 65 percent by 2020. That should include more domestic exploration as well as developing alternative sources of energy, he said.

e-mail: rmccarthy@buffnews.com

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