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Gas Stations Say Price Gouging Law Made Shortage Worse

Three days after Hurricane Ike forced Gulf Coast refineries to shut down, Attorney General Roy Cooper began issuing subpoenas to gas stations accused of gouging customers. The state association representing those stations says the subpoenas actually made the gas shortage worse because many station owners chose to run out their supply and shut their pumps rather than pass along higher prices to customers. The Attorney General flatly denies that link. "We believe it's not okay to gouge consumers even if there are problems with supply," says AG's spokesperson Noelle Talley. "And we don't think the price gouging law is the cause of these supply problems. We plan to keep enforcing the law to protect consumers." Twenty-three gas stations are under investigation for price gouging. The North Carolina Petroleum Marketers Association is urging state officials to reconsider the gouging law in light of its possible affect on the fuel shortage.