With gas prices at west coast pumps higher than those elsewhere in the country, some in the federal government are asking if recent refinery closures on the west coast are the result of a coordinated effort by the companies. One congressperson has called for an investigation into the charges, though the companies deny that such collusion exists.
Gas prices are an average of $3.45 per gallon in Michigan, $3.35 in Florida, $3.35 in Texas, and $3.65 in New York City. In Martinez, gas prices are over $4 per gallon.
Sen. Maria Cantwell, D.Wash, has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Shell, Tesoro, Conoco-Phillips, Alon, Chevron and BP for possible collusion into raising the price of gas, according to a story by McClatchy News Service. Refinery spokespeople say prices are the result of market demand, and not collusion.
In other refinery news, the Martinez Shell Refinery notified the California Emergency Mangement Agency that it had released sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere around 12:20 p.m. Friday due to a flare.
Meanwhile, Tesoro workers at the Martinez Golden Eagle Refinery have agreed to a new contract, the last group of unionized Tesoro workers to do so. The members of the United Steel Workers had authorized a strike vote if an agreement could not be reached, but apparently a strike is no longer a threat.