Legislator plans meeting to address high gas prices in Garfield County

State Sen. Al White is organizing a public meeting to air out concerns about high gasoline prices in Garfield County.

White, R-Hayden, expects a representative from the state Attorney General’s Office, possibly Attorney General John Suthers, to attend. He also is inviting gasoline suppliers and retail representatives.

High prices at the pump have been a sore point for decades among Garfield County residents. Democratic candidate Ken Brenner of Steamboat Springs made gas prices an issue last fall in his unsuccessful Senate race against White, then a member of the Colorado House, for the Senate district that includes Garfield County.

White eventually wrote the Attorney General’s Office, asking for an investigation into the high prices. He said Thursday he got an answer back that the office would look into the situation, but price collusion is hard to prove.

“I never heard anything further from the Attorney General’s Office, but I continued to hear from people from Garfield County who are upset about the disparity in gasoline prices between Denver and Garfield County, and Grand Junction and Garfield County,” White said.

The AAA reports that the average price per gallon for regular gasoline Thursday was about $1.76 in Denver, $1.82 in Grand Junction and $2.06 in Glenwood Springs.

Although gas prices have fallen sharply from last summer, White said the price disparity has increased, percentage-wise.

“So people are still upset about it, and I thought that I would try to put together a meeting,” he said.

The event will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28 at the Colorado Mountain College West Garfield Campus Auditorium in Rifle.

White expects at least 100 people to attend the meeting. He said people may not be satisfied with what they hear there, but it still will be an opportunity to ask questions and perhaps get a better understanding of what might be behind the high prices.

“I think there’s a lot of people who are really interested in this issue, and this is just my attempt to try to help them try to find the answers,” he said.

White said his sense is that a lack of competition, and not collusion, among local gas distributors helps explain the higher prices.

“They watch each other’s prices, and if one is not willing to cut, then why should the other, when there’s only two or three players in the market all serving the same stations?” he said.


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