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Senator Brings Local Refineries, Gas Prices Into Spot Light

Maintenance closures, operational issues and other interruptions in the supply of gas from west coast refineries have prices soaring in west coast pumps, one researcher charges.

With gas prices at west coast pumps higher than those elsewhere in the country, some in the federal government are asking if recent refinery closures in the west are the result of a coordinated effort by the companies. One congressperson has called for an investigation into the charges, though the companies deny that such collusion exists. 

Gas prices are an average of $3.45 per gallon in Michigan, $3.35 in Florida, $3.35 in Texas, and $3.65 in New York City. In Concord, gas prices are over $4 per gallon. 

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D.Wash, has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Shell, Tesoro, Conoco-Phillips, Alon, Chevron and BP for possible collusion into raising the price of gas, according to a story by McClatchy News Service. Refinery spokespeople say prices are the result of market demand, and not collusion. 

In other refinery news, the Martinez Shell Refinery notified the California Emergency Mangement Agency that it had released sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere around 12:20 p.m. Friday due to a flare. 

Meanwhile, Tesoro workers at the Golden Eagle Refinery, just North of Concord, have agreed to a new contract and are the last group of unionized Tesoro workers to do so. The members of the United Steel Workers had authorized a strike vote if an agreement could not be reached, but apparently a strike is no longer a threat.

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