STATEMENT OF COMMISSIONER THOMAS B. LEARY
on the Final Report on the Midwest Gasoline Price
People who only read the Commission's press release will get the wrong impression of our conclusions in the Report on Midwest Gasoline Prices.
The Report properly emphasizes the complex factors outside the control of industry members that contributed to the price spike. The vast bulk of the Report outlines these factors in detail. The Commission press release, however, barely mentions these outside factors and instead emphasizes some company forecasts of supply and demand that turned out to be wrong, and some individual decisions relating to capacity investments and sales volumes that could have been made differently. The Release as a whole conveys the wrong impression that we believe some companies behaved inappropriately, albeit legally.
I wish to emphasize that I voted to approve the Commission's comprehensive and balanced Report, not the misleading press release. The increasingly complicated regulatory and business environment in which these companies operate makes it inevitable that forecasting mistakes will be made, and it would ill-behoove a government agency to criticize business decisions on the basis of hindsight. Moreover, in a competitive market system, companies are entirely free to make whatever individual decisions they choose to make about the configuration of their plants, their rates of production or the management of their inventory, and it would be inappropriate for us to suggest otherwise.