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Assemblyman wants law changed to help lower Utica's higher gas prices

Mike Mozart

Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica) is blaming what he calls the state's weak gas zone pricing laws for the Mohawk Valley's higher-than-average gas prices.

According to a recent report by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, gas in the Utica-Rome area was selling for an average of $3.24 a gallon, which was the third highest price in the state. By contrast, gas in the Syracuse area was going for twenty cents less.

Brindisi says higher gas prices effect the area's economy.

"Every extra penny that you have to spend on gas is another penny that is taken out of the market for goods and services in the region. So it impacts the whole economy," said the assemblyman.

Zone pricing laws allow wholesalers to set prices based on a variety of factors.

"Essentially it allows wholesalers to set different prices for gasoline at their stations based on several different factors, instead of actually basing it on what is the actual cost of getting the gas to the gas station from the terminals," he said.

Brindisi previously co-sponsored two bills to try to change those laws, both passed the state Assembly, but the measures died in the Senate.

“I understand the free market system. I'm a big believer in the free market system, but this is a situation where I think you're taking advantage of people and it's unfair,” said Brindisi. “And we need stronger laws to protect the consumers in New York state who are paying too much at the gas pump."

The assemblyman also urged state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to investigate the higher prices last year.