Friday, September 12, 2008

FYI.... Governor Beshear declares emergency to prevent price gouging

Governor Steve Beshear has declared a state of emergency to prevent price gouging on gasoline and other items as hurricane Ike moves closer to the Texas coast.

I am outraged by the voracious practices of price gouging we are seeing,” Beshear said in a statement. “Today, I have taken an extraordinary step to protect the consumers of the commonwealth from these predators.”

The declaration triggers several consumer protection measures, including authorization for the Kentucky Attorney General to investigate and prosecute those who engage in predatory pricing during a disaster.

Speaking to reporters outside the Lexington Health Department, Beshear said he had spoken with Attorney General Jack Conway, who is beginning to investigate complaints that have been pouring into both of their offices all day.

Beshear said taking such measures wasn't politically motivated.

"I would ask folks to look at the gas pumps. It's anything but politics," he said. "I think it is an emergency when folks wake up in the morning and all of a sudden they're having to pay 50 cents, 60 cents, 70 cents more at the gas pumps than the day before when the hurricane hasn't even hit anything."

Conway, the attorney general, has scheduled a briefing later Friday. Anyone with specific complaints about specific gas stations are encouraged to email information to

In Lexington, people lined up two to three cars deep at area gas stations.

“It’s been busy all day long,” said Jacqueline Wilkinson of the Thorntons on Winchester Road near Interstate 75. “Usually on Fridays we’re busy, but nothing like this.”

Lerry Campbell of Lerry’s Hair Design left work to fill up after hearing concerns that stations might run out. Sure enough. He stopped by the Speedway at Liberty Road only to learn it was out of regular unleaded because of the unexpectedly high demand.

“I was almost on empty,” he said.

Some people brought in extra gas cans to fill up. Beside Campbell at Shell was Jean May of Lexington who heard talk that the price might go up a dollar as Hurricane Ike approaches refineries along the Gulf Coast.

She initially passed the Shell and Thorntons, which was charging $3.729, in favor of checking the station at Wal-Mart because “they’re usually cheaper.” Nope. It was more than 10 cents higher and by the time she returned, Thorntons and Shell had raised their prices.

“Wouldn’t you know it,” she said laughing.


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