After publishing three editorials in seven months, The Post still doesn’t appear to understand what the Retail Service Station Amendment Act of 2011would do. The latest editorial [“Gas attack,” Jan. 21] stated that the bill would prohibit gasoline distributors from “owning and operating retail gas stations” in the District. The bill would prohibit gasoline distributors from operating stations, not from owning them — a restriction in place for oil companies since the 1970s.
The editorial claimed the bill would limit a distributor’s ability to sell land. The bill simply extends federal protections in place since 1978. Distributors can sell stations; they just need to give tenants the right of first refusal. Why would a distributor care who signs the check?
The Post also claimed that the increase in the gap between D.C. gas prices and those of neighboring jurisdictions since June 2009 is the result of tax increases. But The Post was comparing prices in the District with prices in the whole D.C. metro area, which includes the District — a flawed approach that artificially shrinks the price gap. Comparing instead the average annual cost of gas in the District and the average annual cost of gas in the Maryland suburbs and the state of Virginia (figures for Northern Virginia are not available) shows that the price gap increased about 8 cents from 2009 to 2011, according to AAA data — more than twice the amount of a District tax that took effect Oct. 1, 2009. The only explanation for growth that big is price gouging.
In addition, the editorial reported that the District’s dominant distributor, Eyub “Joe” Mamo, did not acquire his D.C. stations until 2009. True, Mr. Mamo bought his Exxon stations in June 2009, but he owned many other branded stations before that. Rather than ask why I want to address market concentration and manipulation, we should wonder if The Post has become a shill for Mr. Mamo.
Mary Cheh, Washington
The writer, a Democrat, represents Ward 3 in the D.C. Council.