Legislation Passes in Pa. to Strengthen Zoning Pricing Law

Assembly passes measure recommended by state attorney general

Fred W. Thiele Jr.

Fred W. ThieleJr.

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., (I) has announced that legislation he sponsored, A.103, which strengthens the state of New York’s gasoline zone pricing law originally enacted in 2008, has passed the assembly.

"Zone pricing" means the establishment of price differences based on the geographical location of the retail outlet within the relevant geographic market, without regard to the posted terminal price and any additional costs where the effect is to injure competition.

“This legislation would end the unfair practice of ‘Big Oil’ companies establishing arbitrary prices for gasoline based upon geographical location without regard to cost,” Thiele said. “Historically, big oil companies have charged higher prices on the South Fork as well as other areas such as Westchester County without regard to cost. The law passed in 2008 was a first step to reduce the differential in gas prices based on geography; however, the State Attorney General’s Office has requested amendments to permit him to more vigorously enforce the law.”

Thiele’s bill, at the request of the AG, clearly defines the “relevant geographic market” and “zone pricing.” It also makes clear that the law applies to sales from wholesalers or dealers to dealer-operated outlets. Some oil companies had argued that the law did not apply to them because they were dealers not wholesalers.

Further, in addition to enforcement by the AG, any wholesaler or dealer injured by zone pricing would also be authorized to bring an action for an injunction against the supplier engaged in illegal zone pricing.

“It is imperative that we have available every tool necessary to ensure fairness in the gasoline marketplace,” said Thiele. “This legislation will ensure that no region of the state is paying unfair, higher gasoline prices based solely on geography.”

Thiele urges the Senate to pass this bill before the conclusion of the 2015 legislative session. Senator Ken LaValle (R) is sponsoring the bill in the Senate as S.332.