Coalition for Lower Gas Prices: Consumer group urges Legislature to provide relief on high gas prices

Mark O’Connell

Coalition for Lower Gas Prices

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Coalition for Lower Gas Prices says minimum markup costing consumers

more than $1 million a day – asks legislators to repeal unnecessary law

MADISON—Citing numbers from a newly formed organization representing small retail gas station owners, a spokesman for the Coalition for Lower Gas Prices (CLGP) said Wisconsin’s mandatory minimum markup law was costing consumers more than $1 million a day and called on the Wisconsin Legislature to repeal it “as quickly as possible.”

Mark O’Connell, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Counties Association and a member of CLGP, said Lower Gas Prices – NOW! has issued a press release indicating that at today’s prices, the markup on every gallon of gas sold at current prices is about 17 cents. O’Connell said that this is the first time he has ever seen gas station owners publicly acknowledge how much the markup was costing consumers. “We’ve always known it was a big number and we’ve known that as the price of gas shot up it got bigger and even less fair,” O’Connell said.

According to Michael Bie, a spokesman for AAA Wisconsin and also a member of CLGP, Wisconsin consumers buy between 2.4 and 2.7 billion gallons of gasoline a year, or an average of 200 to 225 million gallons a month. “When consumers have to pay an extra 17 cents a gallon for gasoline, they’re shelling out somewhere between $38 million and $42 million every month — more than $1 million a day. This outdated law saddles motorists with an unnecessary cost for each gallon of gas pumped.”

Asked to comment on a proposal from the organization of small retailers that would reform, but not repeal the minimum markup law, Bie said that the CLGP applauded the decision by Wisconsin’s smaller gasoline retailers to confront the big dealers and stand up for their customers. “They have taken an important and courageous stand, and we hope they are successful in recruiting new members and spreading their message to the public,” Bie said. “But, CLGP believes our first obligation has to be to all consumers. According to their numbers, the small retailers’ proposal could reduce the cost of a gallon of gasoline by about a dime. That’s a huge improvement over where we are now, but we think consumers would be better off with a full repeal and a market where each retailer was free to decide how much of a profit they thought was fair.”