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US Officials Charge Oil Companies In Pushing UP Prices

Democratic attorneys general addressed the Bush administration Thursday with the request...

Democratic attorneys general from US seven states addressed the Bush administration Thursday with the request to join them in investigating the big oil companies, which are suspected in illegally pushing up gasoline prices.

The request from the states comes amid growing pressure from Democrats in Congress and presidential challenger John Kerry for the White House to take action to ease record-high retail gasoline prices.

They send a letter to President Bush, which was signed by officials from California, New York, Connecticut, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Iowa and Arkansas, who asked the President to join with them ?in investigating whether the oil and gas industries are colluding to drive up the cost of gasoline."

The national retail price for gasoline averaged $2.02 a gallon this week, although pump costs in many states are much higher.

The Bush administration had no immediate comment on the request. Earlier this week, a White House spokesman said the administration was monitoring fuel prices to prevent any price-gouging.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has investigated the U.S. oil industry several times over the years but did not find that companies worked together to raise gasoline prices.

By the way, it?s not illegal under U.S. law for a company to act on its own to restrict supplies or close a refinery that may lead to higher pump prices.