Energy Department Expands Gas Gouging Reporting System

Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman announced today that the Department of Energy has expanded its gas gouging reporting system to include a toll-free telephone hotline. The hotline is available to American consumers starting today.

“While we’ve largely seen the best of American generosity and unity throughout the recovery effort, we recognize that there are some bad actors that may try to take advantage of the situation. Consumers are our first line of defense in guarding against gas price gouging. I can assure you, our Administration – from the President down – takes this issue very seriously. We encourage Americans to report those who are trying to profiteer in this time of national crisis.

“Over the past week, we have seen a sharp increase in the number of consumer complaints registered through our gas gouging web site. By expanding the system to include a toll-free phone line, we hope to make it easier for Americans without ready access to the internet to take action.”

In addition to calling 1-800-244-3301 consumers will still be able to register complaints at http://gaswatch.energy.gov/.

All complaints registered with the Department of Energy will be collated and transmitted to the Federal Trade Commission, U.S. Department of Justice and individual State Attorneys General for investigation and prosecution where appropriate.

In addition, the Administration has used every tool at its disposal to mitigate any disruption in fuel supply. As part of the recovery effort:

* The Department of Energy worked quickly to approve requests of loans from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to oil refineries. Within 48 hours of receiving requests, oil was on its way to requesting refineries. As of September 3, 2005 loans totaling 12.6 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve have been approved.
* The EPA issued a nationwide waiver that allows use of “winter blend” reformulated gasoline throughout the country in place of the “summer blend” that otherwise would have been required through September 15, and that currently is in much shorter supply. This action allowed use of the considerable stock of reformulated gasoline in storage and is already helping to increase the supply of fuels to consumers.
* EPA is also allowing the use of diesel fuel which exceeds 500 ppm sulfur content, providing additional fuel for generators used by first responders, aid providers, and essential services.
* The Department of Homeland Security waived the Jones Act restrictions on the transportation by ship of petroleum, gasoline and other refined petroleum products. This action will allow additional tankers and barges to transport oil and gasoline into ports around the country that may have seen supply disrupted by pipelines running at lower capacity.
* The International Energy Agency (IEA) has announced that its member countries will make 60 million barrels of petroleum products available on the market (the President’s authorization to draw down oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve fulfills the U.S.’s part of this action).
* The Treasury Department and IRS announced that “dyed diesel fuel” normally limited to off-road use would be permitted for road use. This action will bring more diesel supply into the market, enabling transport of essential relief supplies to the affected areas.

From U.S. DOE

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