Sanders Chairs Field Hearing on Burlington, Vt., Gas Prices
Senator continues probe of regional disparity, claims scrutiny has lowered prices
WASHINGTON -- Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) chaired a U.S. Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee field hearing in Burlington, Vt., on August 6 to explore gasoline prices in northwestern Vermont.
Witnesses at the hearing included Ben Brockwell, director of data, pricing and information services for OPIS; Rob Leuck, vice president and regional manager of Costco Wholesale; Jim Coutts, director Franklin County Senior Center; Joe Choquette III of the Vermont Petroleum Association; and Gail Horne, owner of the Keelers Bay Variety Store and gas station in South Hero, Vt.
Click here for a video replay of the hearing and for prepared testimony of the witnesses.
A significant gasoline price gap between Burlington and the rest of the country has "virtually disappeared" since Sanders on July 2 first called for a federal investigation into unusually high gasoline prices in the Burlington area, he said, claiming
"Many Vermonters have contacted my office wanting to know why gas prices have been significantly higher in northwestern Vermont than in the rest of the state and the country. Just about three weeks ago, for example, gas prices at stations owned by the same company were 23 cents higher in Burlington than Middlebury. I am happy to say that in recent weeks, I have detected a more competitive spirit among gas stations in Chittenden County and that gas prices here are, for the first time in months, at the same level as the national average."
On July 5, the senator made public information showing gasoline prices in Burlington in late June were 10 cents to 43 cents greater than a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) computer model projected they should be.
On July 13, Sanders said that gasoline profit margins in the Burlington area in June were double the national average, and that Burlington was the most lucrative gasoline market in the Northeast, citing the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS).
On August 1, average gasoline prices in the greater Burlington area were identical to the national average, he said, at $3.53 a gallon, citing GasBuddy.com.