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Record Gas Prices Fueled By Oil Manipulation? Senators Want Big-Time Investigation

If you felt reamed during October's California gas-price spike, in which records were set at the pump even though there was no real oil supply crisis at all, you have some powerful company.

The U.S. senators from California, Washington and Oregon this week asked the U.S. Department of Justice to do a "refinery-by-refinery investigation into the cause of spikes that drove gas prices to more than $4 a gallon in Western states during May and October."

That according to ...

... the office of our own Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

Here's the deal:

Gas prices on Oct. 7.

@AntonioNBCLAGas prices on Oct. 7.

Refineries in California, including the South Bay's Tesoro plant and others in the Bay Area, shut down or ran at limited capacity, ostensibly because of fire, equipment breakdowns and other issues.

All this happened on the eve of the state's annual switch over to winter blends, when refiners don't usually stock up on summer gas as they anticipate a mandatory transition to a new blend.

Coincidence?

Recent reports allege that there is evidence that some of these plants continued operating despite company statements that they were down for repairs and maintenance.

The senators want answers. Gas for top-octane fuel in L.A. reached the $6 range at some stations. Feinstein and the other senators write:

We are requesting a Department of Justice investigation of possible market manipulation and false reporting by oil refineries which may have created a perception of a supply shortage, when in fact refineries were still producing.

Fired up? Don't forget to add gas.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]