Senate Field Hearing Set on Vermont Gas Prices

WASHINGTON, Aug. 1 - Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today announced that the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a field hearing on Monday in Burlington, Vt., to explore gasoline prices in northwestern Vermont.

A significant gas price gap between Burlington and the rest of the country has virtually disappeared since Sanders on July 2 first called for a federal investigation into unusually high gasoline prices in the Burlington area.

"Many Vermonters have contacted my office wanting to know why gas prices have been significantly higher in northwestern Vermont than in the rest of the state and the country. Just about three weeks ago, for example, gas prices at stations owned by the same company were 23 cents higher in Burlington than Middlebury. I am happy to say that in recent weeks, I have detected a more competitive spirit among gas stations in Chittenden County and that gas prices here are, for the first time in months, at the same level as the national average."

On July 5, the senator made public information showing gasoline prices in Burlington in late June were 10 cents to 43 cents greater than a Federal Trade Commission computer model projected they should be.

On July 13, Sanders revealed that gasoline profit margins in the Burlington area in June were double the national average, according to a leading, independent fuel price research firm. Burlington was the most lucrative gas market in the Northeast, according to the Oil Price Information Service.

Today, average gasoline prices in the greater Burlington area were identical to the national average. Both stood at $3.53 a gallon at noon today, according to GasBuddy.com. On July 2, the average retail gasoline price in greater Burlington was about 25 cents higher than the national average.

Sanders is a member of the Senate energy committee. Monday's hearing will be followed by a forum to give the public an opportunity to ask questions and make comments.

Who: Sen. Bernie Sanders will chair the hearing. Witnesses include Ben Brockwell, director of data, pricing and information services for the Oil Price Information Service; Rob Leuck, vice president and regional manager of Costco Whoesale, Jim Coutts, director Franklin County Senior Center; Joe Choquette III of the Vermont Petroleum Association; and Gail Horne, owner of the Keelers Bay Variety Store (and gas station) in South Hero, Vt.

What: U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Field Hearing 

When: 2 p.m., Monday, Aug., 6, 2012

Where: Contois Auditorium, Burlington City Hall; 149 Church St., Burlington, Vt.