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Verify: Are gas companies charging more than they should?

Crude oil prices went down, but gas prices haven't budged.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Crude oil prices are dropping but gas prices are holding steady. Many are wondering why the price to fill up isn't dropping faster.

The average price of gas nationwide was about $4.30 Wednesday.

The spike came earlier this month when crude oil prices rose to $130 a barrel. It's now come down to $96 a barrel.

We've all been feeling the pain at the pump lately.

President Biden tweeted Wednesday a graph showing gas prices holding steady while oil prices have plunged.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said oil and gas companies are trying to pad their profits by not lowering gas prices.

"Americans deserve relief and fast as oil prices fall. Retail gasoline prices are updated at least daily and if gas retailers' costs are going down, they need to immediately pass those savings on to consumers," Psaki said.

Here's the question: Are oil and gas companies charging more than they should?

Our sources are North Carolina A&T economics professor Scott Simkins, AAA Carolinas Director of Public Affairs Tiffany Wright and Gasbuddy.com analyst Patrick De Haan.

Simkins said oil and gas prices do not usually fall at the same rate. Price gouging, for example, usually happens when areas are more isolated like when people only have access to one source of gas after a hurricane.

"We normally think about price gouging in more localized settings as opposed to thinking about prices of commodities like gasoline across the country," Simkins said.

Psaki rejects the "rise like a rocket, fall like a feather" phenomenon which says gas prices usually go up faster than they fall.

Wright said it also happens because retailers bought gas when it was expensive.

"They buy gas to sell to you and when they bought their product, they bought it when it was very expensive," Wright said. "For them to drop their cost and their price dramatically would end up being a loss for them."

Gasbuddy.com analyst Patrick De Haan said there's usually a lag time in prices and that many stations were already two to three days behind in raising prices when oil costs started to go up.

So we can verify: No, oil and gas companies are not charging more than they should.

Experts said it's likely gas prices will continue to slowly decline once stations buy new supplies at lower prices.

This doesn't rule out the possibility of isolated price gouging cases. If you suspect it's happening, you can report it to the state Attorney General's office.

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