North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has declared a State of Emergency in anticipation of gasoline shortages caused by Hurricane Harvey.
Cooper issued an executive order Thursday he expects will help maintain gas supplies for the state. The order will temporarily waive the cap on maximum hours of service restrictions for fuel vehicles traveling in and through North Carolina.
“Hurricane Harvey’s damage to refineries in Texas and Louisiana could ripple throughout the southeast, causing gasoline shortages and rising prices,” Gov. Cooper said. “I’m taking action to make it easier to get gasoline into our state so North Carolinians who need gas can get it.”
What is price gouging?
Price gouging—or charging too much in times of crisis—is against North Carolina law when a disaster, an emergency or an abnormal market disruption for critical goods and services is declared or proclaimed by the Governor. The law applies to all levels of the supply chain from the manufacturer to the distributor to the retailer.
How does the law define price gouging?
North Carolina law (Chapter 75-38) defines price gouging as charging “a price that is unreasonably excessive under the circumstances.” There is no set price or percentage increase defined in the law so the law can apply to different products and services in times of crisis. In this case, the law has in effect specifically to prevent gas price gouging. If a gas price looks excessive, report it and we will look into it.
How can I report price gouging?
You can report price gouging three ways:
File a complaint online at ncdoj.gov.
Mail us a complaint to: Consumer Protection Division
Attorney General's Office
Mail Service Center 9001
Raleigh, NC 27699-9001
Call 1-877-5-NO-SCAM (toll-free within North Carolina) or 919-716-6000.
What should I report?
It’s helpful if you can provide receipts if you purchased gas, or photos of gas station price signs you spot.
How do we investigate price gouging?
Our Consumer Protection Division follows up on complaints of potential price gouging to determine if the law has been violated. We use information provided by consumers, including first-hand reports, receipts, and photos of gas station price signs. We contact gas stations about reports we get and also look at the costs gas stations are charged by their suppliers.
Price gougers can face fines of up to $5,000 for each violation under North Carolina law. According to our state Constitution, all fines go to support the public schools. We also try to win refunds for consumers whenever possible.
Thursday, the Colonial Pipeline announced it would shut down a key line that supplies gasoline to the South due to storm-related refinery shutdowns and Harvey's effect on its facilities west of Lake Charles, Louisiana.
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The pipeline provides nearly 40 percent of the South's gasoline.