US clears oil companies of causing '79 gas pinch

The Justice Department has exonerated the major oil companies of charges that they deliberately created last year's gasoline shortage in the United States. The department said Thursday a year-long investigation failed to show credible evidence that the gasoline shortage "was the result of collusive conduct" by the oil companies.

The department said a number of other factors had contributed to the shortage , which resulted in higher retail prices and long lines at gasoline stations. Among other factors were the loss of Iranian crude oil production, harsher weather than expected in the country's major crude oil producing areas, decreasing quality of crude oil imports, and increased demand for unleaded gasoline.

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