CREATING LONG-TERM ENERGY ALTERNATIVES FOR THE NATION ACT OF 2007--Continued -- (Senate - June 19, 2007)
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Mr. SPECTER. I have sought recognition to speak in favor of the amendment which will be voted on later this afternoon which provides that we would lift the antitrust exemption which is now held by the OPEC nations.
There have been judicial interpretations holding that the OPEC countries have sovereign immunity from prosecution under the antitrust laws, and it is my legal judgment that the limited judicial holdings in this field are erroneous because there was a well-accepted exception to the sovereign immunity doctrine where there is commercial activity involved. But in any event, there is no doubt that the Congress of the United States has the authority to legislate in the field, and I believe it would be very crucial to remove the antitrust exemption which the OPEC nations now have.
We have a crisis--a strong word but I think an accurate word--on gasoline prices today. The price of crude oil has been hovering around $65 a barrel. The American people are paying on average more than $3 a gallon for gasoline. Consumers are paying more for products because American companies have to pay more to manufacture, and without going into great detail, there is no doubt that there is a crisis in the field.
This legislation has been acted on in the past--in the 109th Congress when I chaired the Judiciary Committee--and it has been reintroduced this year. Senator Kohl is the chairman of the Subcommittee on Antitrust and has taken the lead, and we have a very impressive list of sponsors: Senator Leahy, Senator Grassley, Senator Biden, Senator Coburn, Senator Feingold, Senator Snowe, Senator Durbin, Senator Boxer, Senator Lieberman, Senator Schumer, Senator SANDERS, as well as my own cosponsorship of this legislation.
I have been interested in this subject for more than a decade because I think the antitrust exemption which they enjoy ought not to be. I wrote to President Clinton in his term in office--and received no answer on the subject--a very lengthy letter which I put in the Congressional Record when I spoke on this amendment last week. I followed it up with a letter to President George Bush on the same subject. We passed the amendment last year. As I say, it was dropped in conference. We are asking for a rollcall vote on it this time because the practical realities are, if it gets a very strong vote--and I anticipate it will--it will have more stature when it gets to conference.
I urge my colleagues to support this amendment to eliminate the conspiracy, the concerted action where the OPEC nations get together in a room, reduce supply, and that raises the price. This is an important amendment, and it will contribute to reducing the price of gasoline at the pump.
I yield the floor.