July 16, 2018

Senators Introduce Bill to Fight Price Fixing by OPEC

Legislation will allow DOJ to bring antitrust charges for illegal pricing practices

 WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa),chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today introduced bipartisanlegislation that will let the federal government take action against pricefixing by OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Senators AmyKlobuchar (D-Minn.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) havecosponsored the legislation.
“It’s long past time to put an end to illegal pricefixing by OPEC. The oil cartel and its member countries need to know that weare committed to stopping their anti-competitive behavior,” Grassley said.“We, in the United States, have been working for years to develop our domesticclean, renewable and alternative energy resources. We’re also committed toreducing our reliance on foreign oil, especially when it’s artificially andillegally priced. Our bill shows the OPEC members we will not tolerate theirflagrant antitrust violations.”
“Open competition in international oil markets iscritical to ensuring that American families pay fair prices at the pump. Butunder current law, the Justice Department is powerless to stop OPEC and itsmembers from coordinating oil production to manipulate prices and supply, drivingup fuel costs for millions of American consumers. Our bipartisan legislationwould allow U.S. antitrust laws to be enforced against OPEC producers, helpingto ensure that U.S. gas prices are fair and affordable,” Klobuchar said.
“Oil plays a unique role in the global economy,” Lee said."For years, OPEC has used production quotas to keep oil pricesartificially high, directly hurting American consumers in the process. Thisbill ensures that the Department of Justice can hold entities which engage inopen and notorious cartel activity in this important sector to account in U.S.courts.”  
“In another time of rising gas prices, it is vitalto American consumers and our economy that we do all we can to make sure thatoil prices are not artificially inflated. High oil prices have aparticular impact in rural states like Vermont, whether it is home heating oil,fuel for tractors or just driving to work. I have long supported thislegislation because it will bring accountability to the types of collusivebehavior that spike the cost of gas at the pump. I hope this is finallythe Congress where these critical reforms can be enacted into law,” Leahy said.
TheNo Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act, or NOPEC, wouldexplicitly authorize the Justice Department to bring lawsuits against oilcartel members for antitrust violations. It would clarify thatneither sovereign immunity nor the “Act of State” doctrine prevents a courtfrom ruling on antitrust charges brought against foreign governments forengaging in illegal pricing, production and distribution of petroleum products.
OPECis a 15-member organization that accounts for more than 73 percent of theworld’s crude oil reserves.
Fulltext of the legislation is available HERE.