| WASHINGTON, March 1
WASHINGTON, March 1 The U.S. Federal Trade
Commission should release the results of a nine-month
investigation into whether oil companies are manipulating
gasoline prices, a senior Democratic senator said on
The request from Charles Schumer, the third-ranking Democrat
in the U.S. Senate, comes as election-minded lawmakers trade
barbs over who is to blame for rising gasoline prices.
Republicans have pilloried President Barack Obama for
policies they say are limiting U.S. oil production, while
Democrats blame speculators for exacerbating the problem.
The FTC began looking last June at whether oil refineries
were engaged in anti-competitive practices, but has not released
any findings of wrongdoing.
Schumer and fellow Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill wrote
to FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, urging him to finish the probe
and release the results.
"As the economy is just starting to turn the corner, it is
incumbent upon the Federal Trade Commission to protect the
American consumer and conclude and release the results of their
investigation in potential price-fixing by oil refiners,"
Schumer said in a statement.
Spikes in gasoline prices often spur calls for
investigations by the FTC. In a 2006 report, the FTC concluded
that companies had not caused prices to run up four years
earlier by restricting refining capacity or cutting inventories.
Another report from the FTC last September said crude oil
prices were the main contributor to U.S. gasoline prices,
downplaying the impact of oil industry consolidation.
(Additional reporting by Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by Vicki Allen
and Dale Hudson)