By Leada Gore
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has issued an executing order prohibiting price gouging in the wake of a leak at an Alabama pipeline that has sent prices up and supplies down.
Georgia has been hardest hit by the leak of almost 6,000 barrels of gasoline from Colonial Pipeline's major artery that runs from Texas to New England. The leak, which occurred outside of Helena in central Alabama and was discovered on Sept. 9, resulted in supply disruptions along the East Coast.
Deal's declaration -- which comes on top of ones in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia that suspended limitations on trucking hours -- effectively freezes gas prices. The order prohibits gas stations from artificially hiking prices during the state of emergency. Stations are allowed to raise prices based on increased costs for transportation or resupplying but not on demand alone.
In Georgia, gas prices have risen 24 cents in the last week and 2 cents today. Some reports online said stations were charging as much as $5 per gallon.
In North Carolina, prices have risen to $2.16 per gallon, up from $2.05 last week. Drivers in South Carolina are paying an average of $2.04 per gallon for unleaded gasoline, up 13 cents from last week. Tennessee has seen a 13 cent price hike in the last week; the price of gallon of gas in Alabama has gone up 7 cents.
Yasamie August, a spokesperson for Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley's office, said they do not plan to release a separate order related only to gasoline prices. However, Alabama's price gouging law goes into effect when the Governor declares a State of Emergency, as he did last week.
Alabama's law prohibits the "unconscionable pricing" of items for sale or rent, generally determined to be a price that is 25 percent of more than the average price charged in the same area within the last 30 days -- unless that increase can be attributed to a reasonable cost.
The penalty is a fine of up to $1,000 per violation. Those who " willfully and continually" violate the law can be banned from doing business in Alabama.
Gas prices continue to climb
A spokesman for AAA said they expect gas prices to continue to rise until pipeline repairs are completed, something that's not expected until later this week. States along the pipeline's stubs -- particularly Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee -- will see the most significant impact on fuel availability. Alabama will also see an impact, though it could take long to show up at the state's pumps.
Today's national average price for regular unleaded gasoline is $2.21 per gallon, 3 cents more than last week and 8 cents more expensive than last month, according to AAA.
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