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Evers issues order barring price gouging on gas

Executive order comes as Wisconsin has seen record-high prices

Gov. Tony Evers addresses a joint session of the Legislature in the Assembly chambers during the governor's State of the State speech
Gov. Tony Evers addresses a joint session of the Legislature in the Assembly chambers during the governor’s State of the State speech at the state Capitol on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022, in Madison. On Friday, April 15, 2022, Evers vetoed 28 Republican bills that would have dissolved the Milwaukee school district, prevented certain COVID-19 vaccine mandates and made it more difficult to obtain unemployment benefits. Andy Manis/AP File Photo

Gov. Tony Evers issued an emergency order barring price gouging for sales of gasoline and diesel as the state has seen record-high gas prices.

In the order, Evers said rising oil demand, global supply constraints and reduced refining capacity have led to “significant price increases” across Wisconsin and the nation.

“National inflation is causing the cost of everyday household goods and prices at the pump to go up, and Wisconsinites all across our state are struggling to keep up,” said Evers in a statement. “This emergency order will help prevent bad actors from taking advantage of Wisconsin drivers as they fill up the tank to get to work, school, supplies and resources for their businesses, or get their product to market.”

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The average price for a gallon of gas hovered around $4.82 on Tuesday while the national average is $4.96 per gallon, according to the American Automobile Association.

Evers declared an abnormal economic disruption exists in the state and prohibited price gouging until Dec. 31. Wisconsin law prevents gas stations from raising prices more than once in 24 hours, but the state doesn’t have a limit on how much retailers can mark up gas prices.

The governor’s order bars any extreme increases in gas prices through December.

gas prices
Gas prices are displayed at a filling station in Philadelphia, Thursday, March 10, 2022. Matt Rourke/AP Photo

Evers also renewed calls to suspend the federal gas tax, which is 18.4 cents per gallon. President Joe Biden has said he’ll likely decide whether to pursue a gas tax holiday by the end of this week.

The federal gas tax helps support funding for road infrastructure projects, and opponents fear that suspending the tax may affect the ability to pay for road improvements.

Evers also joined around 40 Republican lawmakers by sending his own letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to waive federal fuel blending requirements across six counties plagued by ozone pollution in southeastern Wisconsin. Earlier this month, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, led a Republican effort asking regulators to do away with reformulated gas requirements to save drivers money.

Reformulated gasoline is gas that’s blended to burn cleaner to reduce vehicle emissions that can form smog or ozone pollution. The requirement is part of changes Congress made to the Clean Air Act in 1990.

Former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who is running for governor, called Evers’ executive order disingenuous.

In 2019, Evers proposed raising Wisconsin’s gas tax about 8 cents to 40.9 cents per gallon. Republican lawmakers rejected Evers’ plan to raise the gas tax and bring back automatic gas tax indexing, which was repealed under Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle.

Kleefisch accused Evers of echoing Biden’s rhetoric on energy and blamed Democratic climate and energy policies for transitioning away from fossil fuels as the cause of high gas prices.

People are encouraged to report any suspected instances of price gouging to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection by filing a complaint on the agency’s website.