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Protecting Mainers from Price Gouging

 Guest Column by Sen. Nate Libby

(June 17, 2022) — High gas prices are forcing many of us to make changes, whether that’s canceling a summer road trip, carpooling to work or cutting down on trips to the grocery store. There are many reasons prices are up, primarily global supply chain issues and the Russian invasion of Ukraine with its political and economic ramifications. But something isn’t adding up. While gas companies want us to think that we’re paying more simply because their costs are up, we can’t ignore the fact that at the same time these companies are raking in record profits. For example, Exxon Mobil’s first quarter profits this year are triple what they were during the first quarter of last year. When Mainers are giving up more and more at the pump while executives and investors line their pockets, it’s important we stop and consider what other factors may be at play. 

Whenever Mainers are struggling, it’s the responsibility of lawmakers to make sure we’re doing all we can to help ease the burden. Earlier this month, dozens of my legislative colleagues and I, including other members of Lewiston’s legislative delegation, wrote a letter to Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey asking his office to determine whether fuel companies are engaging in market manipulation. For those who don’t know, price gouging occurs when sellers charge much more than is fair for their product or service, often relying on the fact that consumers don’t have the opportunity to go without that good or service, or can’t purchase it elsewhere. Importantly, price gouging is also illegal. While fuel companies have every right to make a profit off of the product they sell, we must ensure that profit is earned fairly, not by extorting consumers for a commodity – like gas – that they can’t do without.  

In the meantime, there is some help on the way. The $850 checks authorized by the Legislature earlier this year have already begun arriving in mailboxes. Over 850,000 Mainers qualify for these checks, which are meant to provide some relief as we deal with the high price of gas and other pandemic-driven inflation. 

Qualifying for the check is straightforward and easy: As long as you meet the income guidelines and file your 2021 Maine individual income taxes, you will automatically receive your check in the mail. To qualify, you must have earned less than $100,000 if filing singly, less than $150,000 if filing as head of household, or less than a combined $200,000 if you’re a couple filing jointly. If you still have questions, you can visit to confirm your eligibility. 

If you haven’t filed your 2021 taxes yet, you have until Oct. 31 of this year to do so. For people who receive Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, or who otherwise don’t usually make enough money to file taxes, you will have to file in order to receive the check. If you need help filing, call 2-1-1 or visit to find free, qualified help. For other questions about the checks, visit, call Maine Revenue Services at (207) 624-9924, or reach out to my office any time.

 I know times are difficult, and there is no easy solution to the problems we face in this global market. If you or your family need help finding resources to get by, you can also reach out to my office any time by calling (207) 287-1515 or emailing me at You can also visit to sign up for my regular e-newsletter, which contains the latest information about programs that may be able to help you and your family.

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