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House Overwhelmingly Votes to Take Action Against Oil Price Fixing
Rep. Young Encourages Energy Independence Not Litigation


May 20, 2008

(SitNews) - Nearly three-quarters of the U.S. House of Representives voted for Rep. Steve Kagen's (D-Wisconsin ) bill Tuesday to allow the U.S. government to sue the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries for manipulating supplies and prices.

The Gas Price Relief for Consumers Act was approved overwhelmingly by the House of Representatives by a vote of 324-84. 103 Republicans supported the bill that would put in place the means to crackdown on possible anti-competitive practices that could be contributing to the current record-high gas prices.

Alaskan Congressman Don Young voted 'no' on this measure. "I've become very disgusted by Congress' lack of will to address the real problem," said Rep. Young in a prepared statement. "President Bush visited the Saudis last week to ask that they increase oil production. They told him NO. We import about 2/3 of our energy from foreign countries! We have an abundance of resources waiting to be tapped into at home and we can't because of a lack of will to produce and of the continuous threat of litigation from extreme environmental groups. So what do we do? We vote to make it legal to sue the producers of energy overseas too; the very countries that are supplying us with the majority of our energy because we won't do it here at home. "

Young said, "Mr. and Mrs. America are now paying $4 a gallon at the pump and we haven't even hit Memorial Day yet, and Congress thinks the answer is to allow legal action against our major suppliers of fuel. I am beyond baffled."

The Gas Price Relief for Consumers Act of 2008 would allow the United States to sue foreign oil cartels for anti-competitive price discrimination. It would also allow the Department of Justice Antitrust Task Force to aggressively investigate both gas price gouging and market manipulation.

"Until we finally have an energy policy other than drill-and-burn, this bill will begin to set things right for the American people," Rep. Kagen, who sponsored the bill, said. "We cannot drill or grow our way out of this energy crisis. We must begin to think differently in America. That includes loosening the stranglehold other nations have on our economy and exploring new forms of energy."

The Gas Price Relief for Consumers Act of 2008 (H.R. 6074) incorporates the NOPEC provisions as passed in 2007. "No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act of 2007" or NOPEC provisions would empower the attorney general of America to take action against price-fixing in the petroleum industry by foreign countries participating in OPEC, the oil cartel that meets regularly to set price and production targets. The Gas Price Relief for Consumers Act of 2008 (H.R. 6074) would also authorizes the creation of the Department of Justice Petroleum Industry Antitrust Task Force. Among its responsibilities, the Task Force will examine such issues as the existence and effects of price gouging in the sale of gasoline, anticompetitive price discrimination by petroleum refiners, actions to constrain oil supplies in order to inflate prices, and possible oil price manipulation in futures markets. Finally, the bill requests a GAO study of the effects on competition of prior mergers and divestitures within the petroleum industry.

"This legislation will address the loopholes and exemptions that oil companies exploit at the great expense of our citizens," said Kagen in a prepared statement. "By passing The Gas Price Relief for Consumers Act, the House agrees that it is time to give U.S. authorities the ability to prosecute anticompetitive conduct committed by international cartels that restricts supply and drives up prices. OPEC, the world's most well known oil cartel, accounts for more than two-thirds of global oil production, and OPEC's oil exports represent about 65 percent of the oil traded internationally."

In a prepared statement Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said, "The House today with a strong bipartisan and veto-proof margin voted to hold foreign oil cartels and Big Oil accountable."

Pelosi said, "The legislation provides the Justice Department with a critical tool to pursue antitrust actions against OPEC-controlled entities for fixing prices and creates a new Justice Department Petroleum Industry Antitrust Task Force to examine anticompetitive market practices in the oil industry. It also requires that the mergers of Big Oil companies in recent years be examined for anticompetitive effects."

Rep. Young (R-AK) said, "It appears to me as though our Speaker and her party are content with trying to run our country on a wing and a prayer." He said, "I'm not sure what she's driving, but I'm pretty sure that her solutions aren't going to help my Alaskan constituents fuel up their cars, heat their homes, and feed their families."

Young said, "We are sitting on 2000 acres of frozen tundra in ANWR's Arctic Coastal Desert that could be supplying us with an additional 1 million barrels of oil a day and still this Congress is sitting on its hands." He said, "It is time for this body to wake up and start taking a real-life approach to our energy crisis, and stop passing feel-good legislation that does nothing!"

The United States imports nearly 6 million barrels of crude oil per day from Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries. American consumers remain at the mercy of OPEC nations in how much they pay to fill up their tanks. The House will also address tax incentives this week for investing in renewable energy to create the green jobs of the future.

OPEC members currently cannot be sued under federal antitrust laws because they classify their oil sales as a governmental rather than commercial activity.



Sources of News:

Office of Rep. Don Young (R-AK)

Office of Rep. Steve Kagen's (D-Wisconsin )

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi


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Ketchikan, Alaska