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Maryland AG has received dozens of gas price gouging complaints but says authority to investigate expired

Gas station gas shortage
Posted at 4:39 PM, May 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-13 16:46:05-04

BALTIMORE — Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh says his office has received dozens of complaints about increases in gasoline prices related to the cyber-attack of the Colonial Pipeline.

But in a statement issued by his office Thursday, there doesn't seem to be much he can do about it.

"I have supported, as a legislator and as Attorney General, efforts in previous years to enact legislation that prohibits price-gouging whenever Maryland is in a state of emergency," said Frosh.

Last year at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, consumers were being charged substantial amounts for essential items like toilet paper, hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies and food.

The General Assembly granted Frosh emergency temporary authority to pursue illegal price gouging, however Frosh says that power expired at the end of April.

"I will work with Senate and House leaders during the next legislative session to ensure that this type of emergency authority, already available in most other states, is established so that our office can act in a timely fashion to protect consumers from unscrupulous individuals who seek to take unfair advantage of their neighbors,” Frosh said in a statement.

The Colonial Pipeline cyberattack has caused widespread gas shortages along the southeastern United States and parts of the East Coast including Maryland.

It's caused many gas stations throughout the state to run out of fuel, forcing them to close.

As of 3:13 pm Thursday, Gas Buddy reports 38 percent of gas stations in Maryland are experiencing fuel outages.

Those still open are experiencing higher gas prices and long lines at the pumps, prompting residents to stock up where they can.

According to an AAA report, gas prices in the state jumped 7 cents overnight Thursday bringing the average cost up to $3.01 a gallon.

READ MORE:Maryland's gas prices jumped 7 cents overnight amid east coast fuel shortage

That's the first time prices have reached that high in Maryland since 2014.

Colonial Pipeline said on their website Thursday they have “made substantial progress in safely restarting our pipeline system and can report that product delivery has commenced in a majority of the markets we service. By mid-day today, we project that each market we service will be receiving product from our system.”

Despite that, officials say it could be days before supply returns to normal.

“While an immediate impact won’t be seen and motorists in affected areas can expect to see a few more days of limited fuel supply, relief is coming," said Ragina C. Ali, Public and Government Affairs Manager at AAA Mid-Atlantic. "Station pumps will be full of fuel in several days."

Governor Larry Hogan has authorized the Maryland Department of Transportation to take emergency measures, including waiving weight restrictions and hours-of-service requirements for motor carriers to help lessen the impact.