Chabot Bill to Target OPEC Price Gouging Clears First Hurdle
The House Judiciary Committee today passed legislation sponsored by Congressman Steve Chabot (R-OH) and Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) to make it illegal for countries to work together to artificially set high prices and limit the production of oil, natural gas, or any other petroleum product. H.R. 2264, the No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act of 2007 (NOPEC), which is also sponsored by Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), was passed by the committee this morning by a voice vote.
"As gasoline prices in Cincinnati and around the country continue to climb well over $3 per gallon, it is past time to fight back against the oil monopoly," said Congressman Chabot. "We need to stop allowing OPEC and other foreign cartels to dictate energy prices and fight against their corrupt tactics."
The NOPEC legislation subjects the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other oil cartels to federal antitrust laws by eliminating the sovereign immunity they receive under current law. The legislation also empowers the U.S. Department of Justice to pursue lawsuits in federal court against oil producing cartels. The Senate Judiciary Committee has already approved a companion bill sponsored by Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI).
OPEC member nations hold approximately two-thirds of the world's known oil reserves, making them a very powerful monopoly. With gasoline prices rising at a staggering pace, OPEC is in a unique position to respond by producing more oil and alleviating the pain felt by consumers. Instead, OPEC continues to fix prices and limit supplies, forcing American drivers to pay exorbitant gas prices at the pump.
Chabot stated that the NOPEC legislation is just one component of a multi-faceted approach needed in order to reduce energy prices. He is working toward a comprehensive energy policy which includes a federal ban on price gouging, increased domestic exploration and refining capacity, continued development of alternative energy sources to produce clean, reliable energy, and improvements in energy efficiency. Chabot would ultimately like to see the U.S. achieve domestic energy independence and not have to rely on the pricing whims of foreign oil barons.