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Posted: 2/23/2006 9:58:13 PM EDT



www.startribune.com/535/story/267143.html

Midwest Oil fined for selling gas too cheaply
The state imposed a $140,000 penalty for what it called "willful, continuing, and egregious" violations of the price law.

Tom Ford, Star Tribune
Last update: February 23, 2006 – 10:23 PM


The Minnesota Commerce Department on Thursday announced plans to fine a gas station chain $140,000 for repeatedly selling gas below the state's legal minimum price.

The fine against Midwest Oil of Minnesota is twice as large as any imposed on a company since 2001, when the state established a formula based on wholesale prices, fees and taxes to determine a daily floor for gas prices.

The price law was intended to prevent large oil companies from driving smaller competitors out of business, but some critics argue it fails to protect consumers.

According to the Commerce Department, the Midwest-owned stations in Anoka, Oakdale and Albert Lea sold below-cost gas on a total of 293 days in 2005.

Kevin Murphy, deputy commissioner of the department, called the violations "willful, continuing, and egregious and warrant a substantial penalty."

The company has 30 days to contest the fine by requesting a hearing.

In previous cases, companies were fined anywhere from $500 to $70,000 for selling gas too cheaply.

And in those cases, the companies and the department generally had agreed on the amount of the penalty.

Midwest had not cooperated with the department on a penalty, and was accused by the department of using several delaying tactics before the matter could be resolved.

Midwest officials couldn't be reached for comment Thursday.

Midwest is a subsidiary of the Wisconsin-based Science and Technology Institute, led by Dr. R.C. Samanta Roy.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty and several Minnesota legislators have urged a repeal of the state's minimum price rules.

Critics have argued that it ends up costing most customers an extra dollar or more to fill up, without adding to tax revenues.

Defenders of the law say it's critical to protect small and medium-sized stations.

They note that unlike large chains, those stations often can't cushion below-cost gasoline with sales of other merchandise.
Link Posted: 2/23/2006 9:58:36 PM EDT
Link Posted: 2/23/2006 10:10:25 PM EDT

Originally Posted By adair_usmc:



+20000000000000
Link Posted: 2/23/2006 10:12:11 PM EDT
Another example of the gov making it better.
Link Posted: 2/23/2006 10:17:01 PM EDT
Sounds like they don't want gas price wars killing the smaller dealers. Sounds like some of the bigger chains have been bad boys in the past.
Link Posted: 2/23/2006 10:26:31 PM EDT
the government will save us all. we need more laws that restrict commerce, that way we will be one step closer to communism.

Link Posted: 2/23/2006 10:30:01 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Lord_Grey_Boots:
Sounds like they don't want gas price wars killing the smaller dealers. Sounds like some of the bigger chains have been bad boys in the past.



Not quite how it happened tho.

The independants were in large part driven out by the distributors being swallowed up by the bigs, then refusing sale to the smaller stations unless they fixed prices.

The big companies pressed for price floors, not the smaller stations....precisely because of what happened here. Small guy can play Japanese business too, and the bigger companies no likee.
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