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Schoen proposes 'fair fuel prices' legislation

Fuel prices in south Washington County vary in comparison to surrounding communities and one local lawmaker wants to change that.

Rep. Dan Schoen, DFL-St. Paul Park, introduced a “fair fuel prices” bill Monday that aims to address concerns he said have been raised regarding the price of gasoline near refineries in the metro area, specifically Northern Tier Energy in St. Paul Park.

“We haven’t talked about this a lot and I think it’s time to air this out in the public,” Schoen said in a recent interview.

Schoen called the disparity between area SuperAmerica stores, which are owned by Northern Tier, “ridiculous,” adding that gasoline in St. Paul Park was $3.25 while in Burnsville it was $3.09.

“A lot of my neighbors, friends, co-workers, people I represent have complained about this disparity,” he said. “We can’t seem to get a straight answer as to why. And to get an answer that makes sense requires some action.”

Schoen’s bill, which he introduced ahead of the 2014 legislative session’s Feb. 25 start, would require “companies (to) offer consumers at retail locations within seven miles of a refinery the lowest price of a gallon of gas it offers at retail locations within a 35-mile radius of that refinery.”

The perimeter, Schoen said, best represented the local commuting area.

Schoen added that he has not discussed the proposed legislation with the governor’s office and could not comment on whether or not he thought the bill would pass.

“At a minimum, this legislation would make Northern Tier and SuperAmerica come in and answer some questions,” he said. “They need to explain why the gas sold to people a mere mile from the refinery has to be so much more expensive than (gas) down the road.”

The legislation would not affect current state minimum pricing laws already in place.