NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that his office is completing a comprehensive review on the rising cost of gasoline in the New York metropolitan area – including the five boroughs, Westchester and Rockland counties, and Long Island.

Prices at the pump have led to an increase in consumer complaints to the Attorney General’s office, and Schneiderman has directed his staff to compile data on the prices charged by gas retailers, as well as information on the chain of distribution, to determine the cause behind the continued increases. Schneiderman cautioned that there may not be wrongdoing behind the price spikes, but said that if there is, he will take all appropriate action.

“Drivers across the metro area – from Westchester to Queens to Nassau County – have a right to know how gas prices are determined, and whether they are being taken for ride,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “I have directed my office to review the area’s gas prices, and will take action against any violations that may exist. While we cannot guarantee there is wrongdoing behind the high prices, we can assure New Yorkers that we are thoroughly reviewing the matter.”

According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), the current national average price per gallon of regular gas is $3.96, compared to $2.91 at the same time just one year ago, and could hit $4 per gallon this week.

That trend follows in the New York City metro area, where the AAA is reporting the current average cost per gallon for regular gas is $4.28 – more than a dollar higher than last year’s average of $3.14. In Nassau and Suffolk counties, the current price per gallon is $4.27, up from the $3.13 per gallon just one year ago.

The goal of the Attorney General’s study is to determine whether gas prices accurately reflect current market conditions or if there are unjustified price increases. The review comes as the national and metro area per gallon rates remain high, even as the price per barrel of oil has fallen, and will monitor how local gas retailers respond to the decrease in world oil prices.

In an effort to understand the recent retail price increases of gasoline in the area, Schneiderman said his study will focus on how the current market volatility determines the cost of gas for retailers and subsequently whether that cost is appropriately passed onto consumers at the gas pump. During disruptions in the market for essential consumer goods such as gasoline, retailers and those within the chain of distribution are not allowed to take unfair advantage of consumers by charging grossly excessive prices unrelated to increased costs.

“At a time when the public is very skeptical about what goes on behind the scenes when determining gas prices, it is my responsibility to make sure that everyone involved in setting prices plays by the rules,” said Attorney General Schneiderman.

The Attorney General's office is in the process of gathering pricing data from gas station retailers throughout the region and will release any relevant findings in the coming weeks.