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Calif. US Senators Call For Federal Probe Into High Gas Prices

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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — As the cost of gas rapidly increases in California, Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein are calling for a federal investigation into whether or not big oil companies are manipulating the high price at the pump.

“The Department of Justice’s Oil and Gas Price Fraud Working Group, they have a very clear job. That’s to identify civil and criminal violations in the oil and the gas markets,” said Boxer. “I can’t tell you whether there’s price gouging. I can’t tell you whether there’s illegal activity. But what I can tell you is I’m concerned.”

On Monday, the price of fuel was at $4.66 per gallon, a cent more than the previous day.

In one week, gas prices jumped 50 cents a gallon. In one year, 86 cents.

Doug Heller from Santa Monica-based Consumer Watchdog said it’s obvious price gouging is happening.

“There’s no question (the oil companies) are doing this on purpose. They own the market. They control the market. They rule the market,” he said. “These oil companies have been making billions of dollars off of Californians by overcharging us through market manipulation.”

David Hackett, a 30-year veteran of the oil industry, said the reasons for the high fuel prices are completely legitimate.

“This isn’t good for business for anybody. Market prices for gasoline went up 30 cents in the week before last. And then when the Exxon refinery plant lost power, their plant shut down. That’s when the market really started to take off,” he said.

Some analysts said the price hike is over.  They predict gas prices per gallon will tumble more than 50 cents before the end of the week.

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