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NY Lawmakers Introduce Bill To Prevent Gas Price Gouging

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Drivers have been reeling at the rapid rise in the cost of gas, and worries have cropped up that some prices are being pumped up to scam consumers.

On Sunday, a pair of New York State lawmakers called for action, reports CBS 2's Dave Carlin.

"It's crazy. I'm paying $38…on not even a full tank of gas," one driver said.

State Senator Eric Adams and Assemblyman David Weprin said the price of gas is getting out of hand.

"We are on the verge of $5 a gallon," Sen. Adams said.

"Prices are going up on a daily basis," said Assemblyman Weprin.

Sen. Adams and Assemblyman Weprin announced a public awareness campaign on Sunday to let New Yorkers know that the New York State Consumer Protection Board is the pace to turn if they suspect they're being ripped off at the pumps.

"If you find there is too much water content in your gas, or finding the price gouging increasing rapidly in your community or your area, we want you to call the Consumer Protection Board," Sen. Adams said.

Gas retailers said they are paying higher wholesale prices and have no choice but to pass it on.

Gas stations said drivers can blame the price spikes on the unrest in Libya. Even thought the U.S. doesn't get much oil from Libya, other countries do – and oil prices are set on a global scale.

Assemblyman Weprin, though, said he's concerned about the few greedy gas station owners who go too far.

"Unscrupulous owners are taking advantage of the public not knowing what the actual price should be," he said.

"Gasoline pump pain is something no driver in New York State is a stranger to – however, that pain should not be exacerbated by fraudulent tactics," Sen. Adams said.

The rocketing gas prices prompted New York City's Department of Consumer Affairs to inspect more than 10,000 pumps, and the findings were encouraging – 97 percent of them delivered what drivers were buying.

The legislation will require all gas stations in New York State to post signs near gas pumps listing contact information for the CPB, which investigates such complaints and takes action against violators.

"If they believe they're receiving a poor quality of gas or being overcharged, they can call the appropriate number to report," Sen. Adams said.

The two state lawmakers also want more spot checks at gas stations, and new laws to make the penalties for gouging even more severe.

SOUND-OFF: Do you feel you are being ripped off at the pumps?  Have the gas prices hit you particularly hard?  Let us know in our comments section.

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