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'Even minimal relief is better than no relief,' Beshear issues state of emergency in response to gas price

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Posted at 5:30 PM, Jun 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-23 17:39:22-04

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — In response to rising gas prices, Governor Andy Beshear issued a state of emergency on Thursday. But don't expect gas prices to drop significantly.

According to a response written by Attorney General Daniel Cameron, "a declaration of a state of emergency would provide minimal—if any—additional relief to Kentuckians."

However, Beshear said it's worth putting the order into place.

"Even minimal relief is better than no relief," said Beshear.

The state of emergency will activate the state's price gouging laws. Beshear said that the Attorney General's Office has received 263 complaints of gas price gouging since the start of the year. He also emphasized that 22 of those complaints reported prices of 10% or more above the prevailing price in Kentucky at the time.

The state of emergency will hold price gougers accountable, according to Beshear.

However, he says the real problem won't be resolved until the Russian invasion of Ukraine nears its end. Beshear explained that experts say that conflict is raising gas prices here at home.

"Some of us might wonder: how? When the US doesn’t get its oil and gas from Russia? Well, all of our allies in Europe do and we are asking them to not take those Russian exports - to not support a country that is waging such a vicious and terrible war," said Beshear. "So, we are providing them with a significant amount of our oil and gas, which is raising the price everywhere."

"Part of what we’re seeing right now is not likely to subside until that war is hopefully ending or nearing its end," Beshear added. "We’ve got to understand that stopping a dictator always takes sacrifice. We’re not being asked to send our sons and daughters, but we are being asked to endure some economic hardship."

LEX 18 News asked the governor if the state was considering other options to lessen the financial burden on families. Beshear said the state is looking into cost-saving measures in other areas to offset the high cost of gas.

"If we can save Kentuckians a dollar in another area - we’re looking at all sorts of permitting and other things, where can we find ways to save Kentuckians a dollar that they can use to apply to [on gas]. Our goal is to help families get through a tough time - to reach a much better time," said Beshear. "All of this is temporary, but it doesn’t mean it’s going to be over in weeks."

According to Beshear's team, this move is just the latest action by the governor "to ease the burden of rising costs for Kentuckians."

They point to other actions, like the governor's executive orders to freeze car values and stop a 2-cents-per-gallon hike in the state's gas tax.

Earlier this month, Beshear sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, requesting that the administration grant a waiver and remove the requirement that more costly, “reformulated” fuel be sold in many urban areas.

"While reformulated gas helps cut down on pollution, during these unprecedented times, the reformulated blend is adding an additional cost – as much as 20 or 30 cents or more per gallon – to Kentucky families who are already paying too much," Beshear said.

The EPA has since responded that they would not grant the waiver at this time but are continuing to monitor the situation.