Smith Pushes Legislation to Curb Speculation; Lower Gas Prices
"Before Congress breaks for traditional July 4th celebrations and picnics, we can and must act to move legislation that will ultimately bring relief to residents in New Jersey and around the country struggling with burdensome gas prices and facing the prospect of even higher costs if nothing is done," said Rep. Chris Smith who this week has cosponsored bipartisan legislation to combat the rampant and unchecked speculation into energy markets that are a major contributor of high gas prices at the pump.
"One of the bills I am supporting, The Consumer Price Protection Act (HR 6264)', will help curb the uncontrolled speculation in oil markets that is artificially increasing the price of oil," he said. "Market manipulation is unconscionable and is one of the problems we can combat swiftly."
Smith noted that artificial inflation created by speculators flipping homes in the housing market and by speculators in the dot.com market has shown us the dangers inherent in uncontrolled speculation. He also pointed out that the Energy Information Administration estimates that speculation is currently adding as much as 10 percent to the true price of oil. Other estimations put the figure as high as 100 percent.
"The bipartisan Consumer Price Protection Act (HR 6264) targets those who are driving up prices with no intention to receive or use the oil," Smith said. "Once passed, the bill would prohibit unregulated speculation and so called pen and paper' speculators in the energy futures market. And it would limit participation in energy futures markets to those who have the physical capacity to take the product in which they are investing."
Smith commended Reps. John Larson (D-CT) and Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) for their bipartisan leadership in introducing this bill and urged his colleagues to put political considerations aside in order to reach a solution quickly.
"The Speaker of the House has it within her power to move this bipartisan legislation through the House next week and I urge her to do so, putting the citizens first without any bureaucratic or political delay," he said.
Since the start of the 110th Congress, Rep. Smith has supported several measures to help curb the rise of gas prices including (but not limited to):
Supporting an increase in Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards to 35 miles per gallon by 2020 for all new cars and light trucks. This legislation, which was signed into law by the President, represents the first congressionally mandated increase in CAFE standards since 1975. Additionally, the legislation requires 36 billion gallons of ethanol and other biofuels to be incorporated into gasoline by 2022.
Voting for the "Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act" (HR 1252). This legislation would ban the sale of gasoline and other liquid fuels at prices that are "unconscionably excessive" during a period proclaimed by the President as an energy emergency.
Supporting legislation signed into law by the President (PL 110-232) to suspend the filling of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). Specifically, the move to stop depositing oil in a national reserve would release about 70,000 barrels of oil into the market a dayproviding for a slight decrease in price at the pump.
Voting for the "No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act" (HR 2264). This bipartisan consumer protection bill would allow the Justice Department to sue members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries for colluding to set global oil prices.
Voting for the "Gas Price Relief for Consumers Act." This bipartisan legislation would make it illegal for foreign countries to collectively manipulate energy prices or supplies and allow the federal government to sue foreign countries for any such actions that affect the US. HR 6074 would also establish a Petroleum Industry Antitrust Task Force to examine anti-competitive activities in the foreign oil market.