Gas Price Gouging Hits Hurricane States

Sodini emphasized the request is just that, similar to one the 11-state chain made during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to try to slow down panic buying.

"We are not going to try to take the keys away from them," he said. "It really comes down to what's the inventory status by supplier, state by state."

There was a run on gasoline in Tennessee fueled by speculation about Ike's impact, according to AAA East Tennessee spokesman Don Lindsey.

Some stations in East Tennessee were overrun with customers and ran out of the cheapest unleaded gas, Lindsey said.

In Arkansas, Beebe said he made the emergency declaration to help the attorney general's office pursue anyone who participates in price-gouging.

"We've dealt with emergencies before when severe weather has impacted fuel prices in Arkansas and throughout the region," Beebe said. "This situation is unique with the interruption of pipeline service, and we want to do everything we can to make sure that any price gouging that results can be dealt with swiftly and strongly by the Attorney General."

In Houston, gas prices rose 4.1 cents from Thursday to $3.496 a gallon on Friday, according to auto club AAA.

Statewide, the price of gas on Friday was $3.546, according to AAA.

Despite rising gasoline prices, the price for a barrel of crude dropped below $100, albeit briefly, for the first time since April, suggesting investors believe a global economic slowdown will tamp down supply for some time.

AP Business Writer Madlen Read in New York, AP writer Andrew DeMillo in Little Rock, Ark., and AP Business Writer Mark Williams in Houston, contributed to this report.

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