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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The head of the Federal Trade Commission, Lina Khan, told the White House in a letter released Monday that she plans to probe mergers of retail gasoline stations in order to avert potentially anti-competitive behavior that could drive up the cost of gas, according to a letter obtained by Axios.

Driving the news: The letter indicates Khan will act on a request White House National Economic Council director Brian Deese made earlier this month.

  • Deese had requested that the FTC examine trends in gasoline prices for potentially unlawful conduct.

Details: In the letter, Khan writes, "I am concerned that the Commission’s approach to merger review in recent years has enabled significant consolidation, particularly when it comes to retail fuel outlets."

  • Such consolidation, Khan states, may be raising the price of gas at the pump.

What they're saying: "I will ask that we identify additional legal theories to challenge retail fuel station mergers where dominant players are buying up family-run businesses," Khan told Deese. "I am especially interested in ways that large national chains may 'restore' higher prices through collusive practices, and I will direct our staff to investigate any signs of this type of conduct."

  • Khan also wrote that the FTC will "investigate abuses in the franchise market," through which national chains force franchises to sell gasoline at higher prices.

Between the lines: This is a move spurred on by the administration's concerns that the rising price of gasoline will curtail the economic recovery.

Go deeper

Ex-intel officials claim antitrust could hurt U.S. in China tech race

Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Twelve former top U.S. national security officials are urging Congress to hit pause on a package of antitrust bills in order to consider how breaking up tech companies could harm the U.S. in its competition with China, according to a letter obtained by Axios.

The big picture: Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats are among those arguing that imposing severe restrictions solely on U.S. giants will pave the way for a tech landscape dominated by China — echoing a position voiced by the Big Tech companies themselves.

DOJ sues American Airlines, JetBlue to block "unprecedented" alliance

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Justice Department on Tuesday sued American Airlines and JetBlue to block an "unprecedented series of agreements" that will consolidate the two airlines' operations in Boston and New York City.

Why it matters: The civil antitrust complaint alleges that the planned Northeast Alliance (NEA) "will cause hundreds of millions of dollars in harm to air passengers across the country through higher fares and reduced choice," the DOJ said in a release.

FBI: Body identified as Gabby Petito, death ruled a homicide

A memorial dedicated to Gabby Petito near City Hall in North Port, Fla. Photo: Octavio Jones/Getty Images

A body found in Teton County, Wyoming, on Sunday was confirmed to be the remains of missing 22-year-old blogger Gabby Petito, the FBI announced Tuesday.

Driving the news: The death was ruled a homicide by the Teton County coroner's office, the FBI said. The cause of death has not been determined.

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