TRENTON – Senator Shirley K. Turner made the follow statement today before the Senate Transportation Committee as they considered her resolution to urge the Attorney General to investigate the possibility of price fixing in the sale of motor fuels.
“When I introduced this legislation last session, it was after New Jersey saw a 48% jump in gas prices between 2002 and 2004.
“But the price of $1.65 per gallon that we were worried about back then would be a welcome site to drivers today after the outrageous prices we’ve seen since then. Now we’re happy to find gas at $2.15 a gallon and grimace as we see the prices start creeping back towards $3.
“The oil industry claims that the price fluctuations are a result of supply and demand, international unrest and the disruption of production caused by Hurricane Katrina – which might make sense except for one fact that they fail to mention – the oil companies are reporting record profits.
“Today, Exxon Mobil came out with their fourth quarter numbers and reported $10.7 billion dollars in profits – a record for any oil company, beating the previous record of $9.9 billion that Exxon earned in the third quarter of 2005.
“If the market is so bad, why are oil companies posting record profits? Why did we pay more than $3 a gallon after Hurricane Katrina when the oil companies were pocketing tens of billions of dollars? It’s unconscionable.
“The facts become even more appalling when you look at how much these profits have increased when compared to last year. These records aren’t being broken by small margins, but by huge increases. Exxon Mobil is up 75%, while ConocoPhillips profited 80% more this year. Increases of more than 50% are common among the other major oil companies.
“Something is simply not right here and it is our duty as the elected representatives of the people to investigate whether or not the oil companies manipulated prices in the past few years in order to gain these record profits.
“The Senate confirmed a new Attorney General just minutes ago. Let’s urge her to make gas price gouging one of the major crusades of the early part of her term. As gas prices look to head back towards $3 a gallon, the people of New Jersey need her to find out if these prices are truly fair.”
Senator Turner’s resolution, Senate Resolution 18, would urge the Attorney General to undertake an investigation into whether price-fixing is responsible for the escalation and fluctuation in the price of motor fuels from March of 2002 until the present. It was approved by the Committee by a vote of 5-0.