Lawmakers Ready to Say 'Goodbye' to Gas Cap

(KHNL) -- A key supporter of the state's gas cap said he's ready to suspend the pricing regulation indefinitely.

State Sen. Ron Menor has been the driving force behind the regulation that affects prices at every gas station in hawaii.

He said opposition to the gas cap in the Legislature forced him to switch gears.

"For the protection of consumers, we need to have some kind of regulation in place to ensure that we don't go back to the old situation where the oil companies could charge whatever they want without any protection for consumers," Menor said.

Critics of the cap on wholesale gas prices say the regulation is misguided. "In my view the whole thing is nothing more than basically a lynching.

They talk about profits as if it's somehow illegal," said Bill Green, a consultant for Kahala Shell.

Menor's new proposal calls for the state to continue calculating the cap each week using a new formula that supporters say would reduce prices by 16 cents a gallon.

Oil companies would be free to set their own prices, but they would be compared to that index. If prices exceed it for two consecutive weeks, the cap would go back into place.

Menor said just the threat of the gas cap going into effect could force oil companies to keep prices down.

"Hawaii's market is a broken market, it's uncompetitive," Menor said. "It's a market that's dominated by two oil companies who can charge whatever they want, whatever the market will bear."

The gas cap created double digit price swings.

The impact of this new proposal remains unclear.

"The gas cap in itself has created volatility and anybody thinks that's good has got to be out of their mind," Green said.

It's not clear how Menor's proposal will be received by the State House. It could cross over for consideration by the House as early as next week.