Beshear issues state of emergency to trigger price-gouging laws on fuel

Published 12:00 pm Saturday, June 25, 2022

By Tom Latek

Gov. Andy Beshear announced Thursday he has issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency and activating the state’s price-gouging laws for 30 days to help Kentuckians deal with the spike in gas prices and diesel fuel.

The governor said he is taking the action after the federal EPA denied his request to allow people in the Louisville area to stop using reformulated gasoline, known as RFG, which is designed to cut down on air pollution. A waiver would have saved residents 20-30 cents per gallon.

“With the state of emergency in place,” Beshear said, “consumers in the commonwealth can report price-gouging to the office of the Attorney General. Under state law, price gougers can be held accountable.”

Those who could be in violation of the price-gouging statute are those who charge more than 10% above the prevailing price at the time the state of emergency is signed.

Beshear responded to those who say this would only have a minimal effect, by saying, “I am taking this action, because I believe strongly that even minimal relief is better than no relief.  And if we are going to hold somebody to task, like I was able to as Attorney General for price-gouging, the baseline price is only set when I sign the state of emergency.  By letting it go further, it would make it even harder.  People are gouging us, so I am going to sign the state of emergency right now.”

According to GasBuddy.com, a crowd-sourced fuel price website, the average price per gallon of regular gas in Kentucky Thursday afternoon was $4.69 per gallon. That is one cent below Wednesday, and nine cents below the average price a week ago. By comparison, one year ago, the average price per gallon was $2.82.

In addition to the gas price state of emergency, Gov. Beshear also signed a 30-day extension of one he issued last month, regarding price-gouging of baby formula.

“It is something that is still far too hard to get,” he said, “and it’s critical that we have these protections in place.  I hope it’ll prevent any and all gouging. In many ways, one of the best outcomes would be that we don’t have to have investigations and prosecutions. But not doing it would potentially allow people out there to take advantage of our families at one of their most difficult moments.”