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Spike in gas prices should be focus of investigation

Last week while testifying before a House committee, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said his agency would look into whether the recent spike in gasoline prices was the result of anything other than normal market conditions.

Forgive us, but we'll not hold our breath on this one.

Abraham, speaking on the recent power outage in the Northeastern U.S., was asked about the huge jump in prices at the gas pumps. He said the Energy Department would conduct an inquiry because the price increases "struck me as being unusually large."

If Abraham's agency finds any irregularities, the investigation could be turned over to the Justice Department.

Quite frankly, we think this is just lip service and nothing will come of it. The oil companies point to the Aug. 14 blackout and a pipeline rupture in Arizona as the reasons for the high gasoline prices.

But when the average price for gas jumps by 12 cents, we have to wonder if we were the unfortunate victims of unforeseen market forces or if we were just plain gouged.

In light of the fact that so many in Congress and in the White House are so cozy with Big Oil, we have grave doubts that anything substantive will come from Abraham's investigation, even though the whole thing cries out for a thorough examination.

James Logue