Why are Metro Louisville gas prices so high? - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Why are Metro Louisville gas prices so high?

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville's gas prices are frustrating enough -- perhaps even more so when you see places just outside the city selling it as much as 60 cents a gallon less. If you're wondering why, you're not alone.

WDRB News found out why that is, and the reason it will likely stay that way.

Many assume that it is price gouging, but the attorney general's office, which started looking into the phenomenon several years ago, determined it's the result of a monopoly.

"I know that a lot of Louisville residents, myself included, noticed that it's always about 30 cents higher in Louisville," Allison Martin, with the Kentucky attorney general's office, said. "A lot of that has to do with the reformulated gas that the EPA makes bigger cities use."

Attorney general Jack Conway also found a few more reasons for the price differences.

"A bigger issue across the state is that there is one supplier of gasoline at the wholesale level and that is Marathon Oil," Martin said. "And we believe that when Marathon and Ashland merged in the 1990s . . . that created a lack of competition at the wholesale level in Kentucky."

WDRB compared prices in surrounding cities and states.  Here are the averages: $3.99 in Louisville, $3.68 in Indianapolis, $3.65 in St. Louis, $3.39 in Little Rock, Arkansas and $3.79 in Atlanta.

But don't expect any changes. Martin said the attorney general's office has completed its investigation and didn't find anything criminal, though it does question the lack of competition in the market.

"We asked the Federal Trade Commission to review that merger and to review our investigation, the FTC declined," Martin said.

Martin said Conway refused to take no for an answer and with a new chairwoman onboard at the FTC, the merger is being reviewed again.

For now, the varying gas prices that has the price as high as $4.19 at one location in Louisville is not against the law.

"Under Kentucky law, that is not price gouging," Martin said, noting that price gouging only takes place when there is a state of emergency. And look for more elevated prices soon. A gas tax increase goes into effect in July.

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