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Sen. Duff: Eliminate gas zoning pricing
[February 25, 2011]

Sen. Duff: Eliminate gas zoning pricing

NORWALK, Feb 25, 2011 (The Hour - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- State Sen. Bob Duff is hopeful that legislation to prohibit gasoline zone pricing will finally gain traction this year.

On Tuesday, the General Assembly's General Law Committee held a public hearing on "An Act Prohibiting Gasoline Zone Pricing." The committee resumed discussion of the matter Thursday.

"That's basically where the bill starts, in the General Law Committee. Hopefully, at some point, they'll vote on it favorably," said Duff, D-25. "I've submitted testimony in the past and have been a strong proponent of eliminating zone pricing in Connecticut, because it does nothing more than raise gas prices for Fairfield County." Zone pricing is the gasoline industry practice of selling the same brands and grades of fuel to retail sellers at different prices depending on the 'price zone' in which the retail seller is located. Price zones are not established by law. Instead, gasoline suppliers determine their own price zones. They may establish as many or as few zones as they determine best suits their needs, according to the General Assembly's Office of Legislative Research.

During a public hearing before the General Law Committee in 1997, a representative of Mobil Oil -- now ExxonMobil -- described the practice and said that Mobil had 46 different price zones in Connecticut, according to the research office.

That same year, the General Law Committee considered a bill that would have prohibited all gasoline suppliers from establishing price zones. The legislation would have allowed suppliers to establish price zones but limit the price differences between zones to five cents. The apparent rationale behind the five-cent differential was to allow sellers to recoup higher transportation costs, according to the research office.

The issue of gasoline zone pricing has been discussed each year since then, and there have been bills to ban, modify, or investigate zone pricing in 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2005 and 2006.

So far, none of the bills have been passed into law.

"It's been a long struggle, because the (most recent) zone pricing bill has actually passed the Senate, but it never seemed to muster enough strength to pass the House," Duff said. "Legislators from other parts of the state and the oil companies don't like it. But I think this bill is good for consumers and it's good for the average person." The latest legislation comes as crude oil prices spike as a result of the political turmoil in the Middle East. Prices topped $100 a barrel Wednesday. The lowest price for a gallon of regular gasoline in Norwalk ranged from $3.34 to $3.54, according to the website

-- The Associated Press contributed to this story To see more of The Hour or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to Copyright (c) 2011, The Hour, Norwalk, Conn.

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