Attorney General Wants Probe Concerning Why Gas Prices Are So High

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Gasoline prices are skyrocketing to an all-time high of an average $1.74 a gallon in Florida. The state’s Attorney General Charlie Crist is asking the oil companies why.

"We've never seen higher prices for gas in our history, so what we've done is ask that the seven major gas companies come to Tallahassee and explain why this is happening. Our people deserve some relief."

Crist brought oil executives to Tallahassee a year ago to answer the same questions after a run-up of gas prices. The companies were able to justify the hike because of the war in Iraq and a strike in Venezuela, but those problems ended some time ago.

Crist's call for a meeting March 18 comes on the heels of Senate Minority Leader Ron Klein's demand for an investigation.

"There's a gas station near my district office and they are charging $2.19 a gallon for premium. That's up 20 cents in 10 days. What's going on?"

Gov. Jeb Bush says there are already laws on the books to protect people from price gouging at the pumps. He says the problem is much bigger than that.

"What we probably need is a comprehensive energy policy to lessen our dependence on sources of oil that are not in our control that creates higher prices.”

But while the governor makes a quiet pitch for the president's Alaskan drilling proposal, Florida motorists are hoping the Attorney General's meeting next week brings more immediate relief.

The state’s price gouging law does not kick in unless the governor declares a state of emergency. The governor did declare a state of emergency after September 11th, and more than 60 gas stations paid over $100,000 in fines.

If you have concerns about price gouging at the pumps, you can call the state's consumer help line at 1-800-HELP-FLA.