Prices at the pump are high, but is it gouging?

Stations running on E; gas prices rising

ATLANTA -- A pipeline leak in Alabama has led to a hike in prices at the gas pump and motorists scrambling to get what gas they can. 

There have been some reports by viewers of gas prices shooting up to more than $4.00 a gallon at some stations in the metro area. But if it sounds like those gas stations are breaking a law and price gouging, they're technically not.

PUMP PROBLEMS | What we know so far about the gas leak, shortage

According to the Georgia Consumer Protection Unit's website, a two-step process has to occur in order for high prices to be considered gouging. First, the Governor has to declare a state of emergency, which is already in place. Gov. Deal activated the emergency this past week in order to suspend limitations on trucking hours and allow drivers to stay on the road longer to transport fuel. 

Once the state of emergency has been declared, the governor then has to issue a freeze on prices for a service or a product for them to be subject to price control, which hasn't happened yet. Because of that, gas stations are free to charge as they please based on the supply and demand.

11Alive reached out to the governor's office to see whether that freeze would be forthcoming. A spokesperson for the office sent a statement saying in full:

As of now (and to our knowledge) we've not received any complaints. If that changes on Monday or at any time in the coming days, the governor's office will act accordingly. Gov. Deal has done everything possible, including seeking and receiving an EPA waiver and extending his executive order allowing commercial truck drivers hauling motor fuel, to mitigate the effects of the Alabama pipeline spill.

The spokesperson added that drivers should maintain normal consumption levels and travel routines. If they do so, "the measures the governor has put in place should be effective." 

PHOTOS | Metro-area residents impacted by gas shortage

(© 2016 WXIA)


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