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Pa. can't investigate gas price gouging right now—here's why | FOX43 Finds Out

Gas prices are near all-time highs, but the Pennsylvania Attorney General can't currently investigate price gouging for gas prices.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — As we fill our tanks and drain our wallets, we're constantly asking: When will gas prices go down again?

Without a crystal ball, it's hard to answer that.

"It really is becoming an emergency for families," said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. "Maybe not a legally declared emergency but it is an emergency when it comes to people's budgets, pocketbooks, and wallets."

Shapiro is the person who would investigate price gouging in the state, especially when it comes to gas prices.

But according to PA law, he can't right now -- because price gouging investigations are tied to disaster declarations. 

Governor Tom Wolf's office confirmed they are not considering that at the moment. Instead, the governor is pushing congress to enact a federal gas tax holiday.

Shapiro's office would like to see something done on the state level. 

"I have called on the legislature and the governor to work together to either put a new law in place that affords us the ability to go after price gouging all year round, regardless of whether there is an emergency declaration in place, or for the governor to consider an emergency declaration given the global issues that we're seeing right now which is driving up prices from fuel to other commodities and other goods and supplies," said Shapiro.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, some other states do have laws that allow the attorney general to investigate gas prices during what's considered a fuel, gas, or market emergency.

That's something Shapiro would like to see.

"I have heard from Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike that they would like to correct that situation and give the Office of the Attorney General to combat price gouging all year round the way they have in other states," said Shapiro.

Republican State Representative Sheryl Delozier sits on the Pennsylvania House Consumer Affairs Committee. 

She said, "Demand does increase the price, but where is it that it's price gouging, and where is that it's a direct relation to our economics at the time?"

Delozier also represents part of Cumberland County and understands what people are going through right now.

"No one wants to fill up their tank," she said. "My gas light just went on and I cringed."

She's also afraid that allowing price gouging investigations at any time could hurt companies and consumers in the long run.

"We all need to take a look at any opportunity that we have to protect our consumers," Delozier said. "I would be leery of setting prices and capping a particular industry when we don't know the circumstances. As we've seen some in this circumstance, there's a lot of things at play."

However, it seems both Democrats and Republicans are willing to at least consider new legislation.

"I would certainly take a look at anything where our consumers are being protected," Delozier said.

There are several bills up for consideration in Pennsylvania right now that have to do with price gouging.

In the past, the governor had vetoed legislation that would have required a separate declaration to trigger pricing restrictions.

Both Shapiro and Delozier say they don't know if price gouging is happening at all, and most companies are true and honest when it comes to this sort of thing. 

If you think price gouging is happening, you can still report it to the Attorney Generals' office by going here or emailing pricegouging@attorneygeneral.gov.

If you have a story you want Jackie De Tore to look into, FOX43 wants to find out. Send her a message on Facebook or send an email to FOX43FindsOut@FOX43.com.    

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