Senator Bernie Sanders on Monday repeated his call for more investigation as to why gasoline prices are higher in Northwestern Vermont, than in other parts of the state.
It is a question a lot of people have been asking, for months, and an issue Sanders began investigating this summer. The Senator began surveying gas prices at stations -- his image was captured on surveillance cameras at Maplefields in Middlebury.
"Prices for gasoline are significantly lower than towns in Chittenden County, Franklin County, Lamoille County -- why is that?" Sanders asked.
Sanders said those three counties are ranked the tenth most lucrative market to sell gasoline in the United states, according a national organization that tracks prices and profits.
"I think the reason we have concluded is pretty simple. You have three distributors up here who control over half of the gas stations in Northwest Vermont and they are keeping prices artificially high in my view -- simply because they can do that," he said.
Sanders said he has written to the three companies requesting a meeting to explain why prices vary. He said they turned him down.
But at least one of those dealers, Skip Vallee of RL Vallee, said he sent the Senator an email on November 30th outlining the offer of a meeting and a number of issues he would like to talk about, including Costco's efforts to sell gas at its Colchester location. He said Sanders said no.
"I don't know what he is afraid of. I proposed a meeting at my office near Costco to show him the wetland that would be consumed and to show him the traffic congestion that would be created," Vallee said.
Sanders' office told us the Senator was only interested in discussing gas prices. One of the questions Vallee had for Sanders was why the Senator inquired about Costco's Act 250 permit. Sanders has in the past said if Costco were allowed to sell gas, prices would come down due to increased competition. In fact, the Senator's office did ask the Environmental Board to expedite the process if possible.
Reporter Judy Simpson: By asking -- that request -- Isn't that getting involved.
Senator Bernie Sanders: No, we are not getting involved in the merits of the case at all, that would be improper.
The Senator has launched a new link on his website that tracks gasoline prices not only in Vermont but nationwide as well.
Sanders said the dealers are not doing anything illegal with their pricing, but he feels such a large price difference around the state is unfair for residents who are seeing a larger percentage of their personal budgets going toward gasoline.
Sunday, May 19 2013 8:39 PM EDT2013-05-20 00:39:09 GMT
"Awesome -- I lost it when I finished I have to say, but it was great. It was great," said Amy Sullivan. The 2013 Boston Marathon runner was all smiles as she and 450 other runners crossed the finishMore >>
A race in southern Vermont Sunday gave runners who were unable to finish the Boston Marathon a second chance at the finish line.More >>
Sunday, May 19 2013 8:38 PM EDT2013-05-20 00:38:13 GMT
They come from all over the state and wait in line for hours. "It's become sort of a yearly event for us. We've been doing it for eight or nine years now -- we're having a blast," said Ed Sayers ofMore >>
Dozens of drivers gathered in Chelsea for a record setting road rally -- full of riddles that keep drivers and passengers on their toes.More >>
Sunday, May 19 2013 8:36 PM EDT2013-05-20 00:36:52 GMT
College graduation season is in full swing -- and Sunday in Burlington it was a big one. A crowd of nearly 10,000 attended the 211th commencement ceremony at the University of Vermont.In all, more thanMore >>
A crowd of nearly 10,000 attended the 211th commencement ceremony at the University of Vermont.More >>
Sunday, May 19 2013 8:28 PM EDT2013-05-20 00:28:28 GMT
Fire destroyed a barn in Clinton County, New York Sunday morning.It happened in the town of Mooers. Officials say the barn on Eddy Road was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived just before 11:30More >>
Officials say the barn on Eddy Road was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived just before 11:30 a.m.More >>
Sunday, May 19 2013 8:27 PM EDT2013-05-20 00:27:13 GMT
A Berlin, New Hampshire man is dead following a kayaking accident.It happened on a stretch of the Upper Ammonoosuc River in the town of Dummer. Officials say Keith Whitten, 58, was paddling with his wifeMore >>
A Berlin, New Hampshire man is dead following a kayaking accident.More >>
Sunday, May 19 2013 8:26 PM EDT2013-05-20 00:26:39 GMT
Woodchuck Hard Cider is taking legal action to protect its furry mascot.Last week the Middlebury company filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against South Burlington-based Woodchuck Coffee RoastersMore >>
Woodchuck Hard Cider is taking legal action to protect its furry mascot.More >>
Sunday, May 19 2013 8:17 PM EDT2013-05-20 00:17:27 GMT
Vermont State Police have charged 22-year-old Adam Page of Newport for stealing the Newport City Elementary School bus, which has now been declared totaled. A stolen dog was also recovered in the busMore >>
State Police say he is also being charged with the theft of two other vehicles and a woman's dog.More >>