February 14, 2019

Senator Haskell Fighting for Legislation Banning Gasoline Zone Pricing

State Senator Will Haskell (D-Westport) this week gave support to legislation he introduced to the General Assembly to eliminate gasoline zone pricing, a system of gasoline sales that requires standard prices in certain locations that can often cost consumers simply because of the town in which they live.

Senate Bill No. 419, “An Act Prohibiting Gasoline Zone Pricing,” is a bi-partisan proposal introduced by Sen. Haskell, Sen. Tony Hwang (R-Fairfield) and Rep. Jonathan Steinberg (D-Westport). The Transportation Committee heard arguments for and against the legislation at a public hearing this week.

“Every day, when I drive to work, I notice gas prices steadily decline as I travel north,” said Sen. Haskell. “In Westport, drivers can pay up to $2.90 per gallon, while drivers in Rocky Hill pay closer to $2.20 per gallon. That’s because of gas zone pricing, which allows gas distributors to charge more in certain areas. It doesn’t cost them more to bring that gas to other locations, but that doesn’t stop them from driving the price up anyway. That increases the cost of gas for everyone in those towns—students, retirees, and working people alike. Our bill would allow for greater competition in the market, leading to fairer prices.”

These pricing zones have been in place for decades, with a Mobil Oil spokesman telling the General Law Committee in 1997 that they were designed to make sure the company’s stations “did not compete significantly with each other.” In the 22 years since, Fairfield County has been negatively impacted by this anti-competitive practice. This kind of legislation has been proposed time and time again over the last few decades. In fact, a similar bill was endorsed by the Hartford Courant in 2006.

“This legislation is pro-consumer and helps put money in the pockets of Connecticut residents,” said Sen. Haskell. “There’s a reason why it’s a bi-partisan bill—we’re fighting for our community. Gas stations should be free to set competitive rates, not have prices dictated to them. It’s been more than 20 years since the Task Force on Gasoline Pricing in Connecticut recommended banning zone pricing. While legislators haven’t been able to get this bill passed in past years, I’m going to continue to fight to even the playing field.”