RICHMOND, Va. — Democratic leaders in Virginia are calling on Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin to declare a state of emergency to activate the state's anti-price gouging law as gas prices reach record highs following Russian's invasion of Ukraine.
"Governor Youngkin has the power to act and help protect Virginians at the pump, but so far, has failed to do so. Instead, he continues to point fingers and waste precious time,” House Minority Leader Eileen Filler-Corn said in a statement Thursday.
The emergency declaration would activate the Virginia Post-Disaster Anti-Price Gouging Act, which is designed to stop suppliers from charging an “unconscionable price” for necessary goods and services, including gas and home heating fuel. The law gives the state attorney general the authority to investigate and prosecute businesses that overcharge.
Filler-Corn cited the use of the law last year, when Russian hackers engaged in a cyber attack on the Colonial Pipeline. Former Gov. Ralph Northam issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency, which gave former Attorney General Mark Herring the authority to investigate. Herring’s office returned thousands of dollars to victims, according to Filler-Corn.
Youngkin's spokesperson, Macaulay Porter, called Filler-Corner's call for a state of emergency a “ploy."
“Virginians and all Americans are feeling the pain at the pump with the highest gas prices on record. Of course this isn't price gouging and Virginians see this ploy for what it is - Democrats trying desperately to distract their constituents from their record of reducing American energy independence at every turn,” Porter said in a statement.
A spokesperson for Attorney General Jason Miyares did not immediately respond to a request for comment.