Speaker Nancy Pelosi:
“In our historic energy legislation of last year, Congress gave the FTC the authority to probe possible market manipulation of oil and gas prices and levy penalties against those who are cheating consumers, giving the commission new authority to protect consumers from skyrocketing energy costs. Last week, my colleagues and I wrote to the FTC demanding they move immediately to fully implement this critical ability to investigate gas prices.
“Today, as gas prices increased a record 18th day in a row, the FTC will take the long overdue action of moving forward on efforts to examine the manipulation of energy prices. I thank the FTC for heeding our call to protect consumers by using this new authority to probe oil and gasoline prices and punish those who manipulate the price at the pump.”
FTC Answers Markey, Pelosi, Others on Oil Price Manipulation
Agency Will Exercise Authority Given in Democratic Energy Bill
WASHINGTON (May 2, 2008) — In response to a request from Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders, the Federal Trade Commission said today that it would immediately implement new authority given to the agency by the recent energy bill to ensure that the U.S. oil and gas market is free from manipulation.
The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA), which became law last December, “makes clear the federal government’s responsibility” to fight manipulation in the petroleum market, and “levy penalties against those who might seek to profit from such illegal activities” the legislators wrote last week. Rep. Markey and others noted that strong oversight is needed immediately due to the historic oil price increases over the past few months.
“Consumers already feel pinched at the pump, and this should help ensure they aren’t cheated as well,” said Rep. Markey, who is Chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. “After this process is formalized, anybody found to be manipulating the oil market should be punished to the full extent of the law.”
In the response letter to Chairman Markey and others, the FTC said they had established a task force, and would issue an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking today, with the intention of completing the rulemaking process this year.
Chairman Markey and the Select Committee held a hearing on April 1, 2008 with executives from the top five oil companies. At that hearing, the Exxon representative said that feverish oil speculation accounts for a significant portion of recent price increases.
The letter from Chairman Markey and others to the FTC can be found HERE.
The response letter from the FTC can be found HERE.