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Parsing the Price at the Pump

Why is it that the gas stations at one corner all have the same price for gas? Or that gas stations at another corner miles away will share another price--perhaps lower than the first corner's but the exactly the same as the adjacent businesses?

Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot pledged today to gather information from the oil industry to determine how companies are setting rates, as gas prices continue to rise to near-historic levels.

Franchot, at a news conference at a Bethesda gas station and again in Annapolis, questioned why gas prices varied substantially within a few miles. The same brand, he said, could be sold at "wildly fluctuating prices."

Inspectors from his office as well as the state Department of Agriculture will be dispatched to ensure that underground gasoline storage tanks are 60 degrees or cooler. At temperatures greater than 60 degrees, Franchot said, the gasoline expands and could result in customers getting shortchanged at the gas pump.

Franchot also said his office's website,, will begin listing fuel prices to help motorists find cheaper gas. He also called for renewal of an expired state tax credit for purchasers of hybrid vehicles.

The comptroller's office regulates distribution and sale of motor fuels in Maryland.

Miranda S. Spivack

By Phyllis Jordan  |  May 25, 2007; 1:25 PM ET
Categories:  Miranda Spivack  
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