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Commission approval of staff comments: The Commission has approved the filing of staff comments with Washington, DC, Councilmember Mary Cheh regarding the “divorcement” provisions of the District’s Retail Service Station Act, which prohibit the operation of retail gasoline services in the District by a “jobber, producer, refiner, or manufacturer of motor fuels.” Councilmember Cheh has introduced a proposal into the Council to allow gasoline jobbers to operate retail service stations, and has requested comments on the likely competitive impacts of the Act’s divorcement provision.

In the comments, staff of the FTC’s Office of Policy Planning, Bureau of Competition, and Bureau of Economics state that given the empirical evidence that bans on vertical integration in gasoline retailing leads to higher retail gasoline prices, the Act’s divorcement provisions likely cause DC residents to pay more for gasoline than they otherwise would. Accordingly, the staff letter supports Councilmember Cheh’s proposal, while noting that eliminating the divorcement provisions entirely would provide consumers with more benefits than a partial repeal.

The Commission vote approving issuance of the staff comments was 5-0. A copy of the comments can be found on the FTC’s Web site as a link to this press release. (FTC File No. V070011; the staff contact is James Cooper, Office of Policy Planning, 202-326-3367.)

Petition for approval of proposed divestiture: The Commission has received a petition from Service Corporation International (SCI) and Alderwoods Group, Inc. seeking approval of a proposed divestiture related to SCI’s recent acquisition of Alderwoods. In the FTC’s consent agreement and order allowing the transaction to proceed with conditions, SCI and Alderwoods were required to divest a range of funeral home and cemetery services companies. Through this petition, a public version of which can be found on the Commission’s Web site as a link to this press release, the companies have requested approval to divest O’Hair & Riggs Funeral Chapel in Klamath Falls, Oregon, to O’Hair & Riggs Funeral Services, Inc.

The FTC is seeking public comments on the proposed divestiture for 30 days, until July 11, 2007, after which it will decide whether to approve it. Comments should be sent to: FTC, Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20580. (FTC File No. 061-0156, Docket No. C-4174; the staff contact is Elizabeth A. Piotrowski, Bureau of Competition, 202-326-2623; see press release dated November 22, 2006.)

Commission extension of public comment period: By a vote of 5-0, the Commission has approved an extension of the public comment period related to a study currently being conducted to identify federal and state laws that apply differently to the U.S. Postal Service – with respect to the competitive category of mail – than to private companies providing similar products. On May 1, 2007, the FTC published a Federal Register notice announcing the study and stating that the public comment period would end on July 2, 2007. The deadline for filing comments has now been extended until August 6, 2007. (FTC File No. P071200; the staff contact is James Cooper, Office of Policy Planning, 202-326-3367.)

Copies of the documents mentioned in this release are available from the FTC’s Web site at and from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. Call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP.

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