MULBERRY, Ks. — Natural gas prices surged during February’s winter storm – leaving many people worried about their financial future. But one community is fighting back.
It’s a local version of David vs. Goliath. This one – Mulberry, Kansas vs. British Petroleum or BP. The community has filed a lawsuit against the British multinational oil and gas company. The reason – profiting off of rural areas, like Mulberry, during a statewide disaster.
Darvin Weaver, Mulberry Resident, said, “We pretty much all banded together to fight this, we don’t know the outcome but we’re hoping for the best.”
February’s low temperatures caused gas bills to reach record heights. The city of Mulberry saw unit prices increase more than 11,000%.
Timothy Fielder, Mulberry City Attorney, said, “The city of Mulberry normally for February would have between a $7,000 to $7,500 bill, we received a bill for $51,000.”
The city is fighting back. It’s filed a lawsuit against its supplier, British Petroleum, for profiting off of residents during a disaster.
“From our viewpoint they violated the law and they took advantage of it because they could.”
KS ST Rep. Ken Collins, (R) Second District, said, “Anything over a 25% hike during a time of disaster is considered price gouging, and it was a hundred times increase not just a hundred percent.”
There is a 10 year low interest loan offered by the state of Kansas, but the city is not taking part in it. Officials say it would still reward the corporation for those increased prices.
“What we’re doing is is that we’re having the state through it’s own funds help to pay a gas giant, who overcharged the citizens of the state,” said Fielder.
Because Mulberry might not be able to afford another Winter storm.
“You don’t know what’s going to happen over the next 10 years, we may have more of these vicious vortexes in the winters, and we couldn’t afford that,” said Weaver.
When asked to comment, BP said quote, “Throughout this period BP has sought to honor existing contractual arrangements and respond to customer needs, while complying with all laws and regulations governing the relevant markets,” end quote.
Overland Park Law Firm Smithyman and Zakoura will be handling the case, but they aren’t the only ones interested. This continues to be an evolving story so we will keep everyone updated as it develops.