Governor: No Price Gouging, Gas Supply May Be Limited

Governor Mike Easley declared a state of “abnormal market disruption” under North Carolina law, which charges the Attorney General with enforcing the price gouging statute.

Easley issued the following statement concerning the situation:

“As a result of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, oil refineries in Texas and Louisiana have temporarily interrupted some gasoline supplies to the pipelines that serve North Carolina. Therefore, there may be temporary limitations on our gas supply. However, wholesale gas prices are up less than 20 cents a gallon over the last few days. Therefore, consumers should not see prices rise substantially more than this rise in the wholesale price.

“Today I have declared a state of abnormal market disruption under North Carolina law and charged the Attorney General with enforcing the price gouging statute. This statute prohibits the charging of prices that are unreasonably excessive under the circumstances.

“We know that there will be some supply disruption, but we do not yet know the extent. Past events of this kind have lasted only a short time. I urge motorists to reasonably conserve gasoline until the situation is clearer. ”



PREVIOUS STORY:

The North Carolina Attorney General's office says they are getting complaints of gasoline price gouging.

But the state's price gouging law doesn't become effective until the governor declares a state of emergency, which has not happened.

Attorney General Roy Cooper today urged the governor to make that happen. “People are understandably frustrated that already high gas prices are rising so quickly. I urge the governor to trigger the price gouging law and we stand ready to take consumer complaints. I encourage gas stations to avoid panic price increases and consumers to avoid panic fill-ups.”


North Carolina Price Gouging Statute:

Prohibit excessive pricing during states of disaster, states of emergency, or abnormal market disruptions.
(a) Upon a triggering event, it is prohibited and shall be a violation of G.S. 75-1.1 for any person to sell or rent or offer to sell or rent any goods or services which are consumed or used as a direct result of an emergency or which are consumed or used to preserve, protect, or sustain life, health, safety, or economic well-being of persons or their property with the knowledge and intent to charge a price that is unreasonably excessive under the circumstances. This prohibition shall apply to all parties in the chain of distribution, including, but not limited to, a manufacturer, supplier, wholesaler, distributor, or retail seller of goods or services. This prohibition shall apply in the area where the state of disaster or emergency has been declared or the abnormal market disruption has been found.

In determining whether a price is unreasonably excessive, it shall be considered whether:
(1) The price charged by the seller is attributable to additional costs imposed by the seller's supplier or other costs of providing the good or service during the triggering event.
(2) The price charged by the seller exceeds the seller's average price in the preceding 60 days before the triggering event. If the seller did not sell or rent or offer to sell or rent the goods or service in question prior to the time of the triggering event, the price at which the goods or service was generally available in the trade area shall be used as a factor in determining if the seller is charging an unreasonably excessive price.
(3) The price charged by the seller is attributable to fluctuations in applicable commodity markets; fluctuations in applicable regional, national, or international market trends; or to reasonable expenses and charges for attendant business risk incurred in procuring or selling the goods or services.
(b) In the event the Attorney General investigates a complaint for a violation of this section and determines that the seller has not violated the provisions of this section and if the seller so requests, the Attorney General shall promptly issue a signed statement indicating that the Attorney General has not found a violation of this section.
(c) For the purposes of this section, the end of a triggering event is the earlier of 45 days after the triggering event occurs or the expiration or termination of the triggering event unless the prohibition is specifically extended by the Governor.
(d) A "triggering event" means the declaration of a state of emergency pursuant to G.S. 166A-8 or Article 36A of Chapter 14 of the General Statutes, the proclamation of a state of disaster pursuant to G.S. 166A-6, or a finding of abnormal market disruption pursuant to G.S. 75-38(e).
(e) An "abnormal market disruption" means a significant disruption, whether actual or imminent, to the production, distribution, or sale of goods and services in North Carolina, which are consumed or used as a direct result of an emergency or used to preserve, protect, or sustain life, health, safety, or economic well-being of a person or his or her property. A significant disruption may result from a natural disaster,
weather, acts of nature, strike, power or energy failures or shortages, civil disorder, war, terrorist attack, national or local emergency, or other extraordinary adverse circumstances. A significant market disruption can be found only if a declaration of a state of emergency, state of disaster, or similar declaration is made by the President of the United States or an issuance of Code Red/Severe Risk of Attack in the Homeland Security Advisory System is made by the Department of Homeland Security, whether or not such declaration or issuance applies to North Carolina.
(f) The existence of an abnormal market disruption shall be found and declared by the Governor pursuant to the definition in subsection (e) of this section. The duration of an abnormal market disruption shall be 45 days from the triggering event, but may be renewed by the Governor if the Governor finds and declares the disruption continues to affect the economic well-being of North Carolinians beyond the initial 45-day period. (2003-412, s. 1; 2006-245, s. 1; 2006-259, s. 41.)


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