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Letter to Eric Holder, Attorney General of U.S. Department of Justice

Today Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen led a letter signed by 41 additional Members of Congress to Attorney General Eric Holder calling for immediate action to address manipulation and speculation in oil markets, which is driving up costs and hindering our economic recovery.

In the letter, Van Hollen and his colleagues urge Mr. Holder to use the Oil and Gas Price Fraud Working Group to "prosecute a vigorous inquiry into the extent to which excessive speculation or outright manipulation are driving up prices in today's oil and gas markets," as well as "use every investigatory and law enforcement tool at your disposal to ensure the proper functioning of our oil and gas markets." The full text of the letter is below.

As the New York Times pointed out today, "Mr. Obama is right to challenge Republicans who claim that lower gas prices and energy security can be achieved simply with more drilling or more pipelines. And he is right to press for greater efficiency, conservation and alternative fuels. But speculation is also a problem that demands more attention and tougher rules." [NY Times Editorial, 4/19/2012]

April 19, 2012

The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr.

Attorney General of the United States

U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20530-0001

Dear Mr. Attorney General:

We write in support of President Obama's recent announcement that the Oil and Gas Price Fraud Working Group has been reconstituted and strongly encourage you to use the Working Group to prosecute a vigorous inquiry into the extent to which excessive speculation or outright manipulation are driving up prices in today's oil and gas markets.

The answer to this question is not academic. Artificially high prices due to excessive speculation or market manipulation function as a hidden tax on American consumers and can impede our ongoing economic recovery. In response to the recent run up in oil and gas prices, credible sources including CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton and Forbes Magazine have both estimated that the current price of a gallon of gasoline includes a speculative premium of over 50 cents.

Rather than risking a repeat of 2008 -- where speculators ran the price of a barrel of oil up to $147 and market manipulators were only identified and charged after the fact -- the time to act is now. We urge you to use every investigatory and law enforcement tool at your disposal to ensure the proper functioning of our oil and gas markets.

Sincerely,

Chris Van Hollen

Sander Levin

John D. Dingell

Rosa DeLauro

Anna G. Eshoo

Lloyd Doggett

Tim Bishop

William R. Keating

John Lewis

Jim McGovern

Christopher S. Murphy

Donna F. Edwards

Marcy Kaptur

Lois Capps

Jim Moran

Gwen Moore

Carolyn McCarthy

Carolyn B. Maloney

Eleanor Holmes Norton

Jim Langevin

Keith Ellison

Bobby Scott

Edward J. Markey

John B. Larson

Michael M. Honda

Judy Chu

Raul M. Grijalva

Mazie K. Hirono

Peter Welch

Chellie Pingree

John W. Olver

Ted Deutch

Bob Filner

Maurice D. Hinchey

Brian Higgins

Rick Larsen

David Cicilline

Pete Stark

Joe Courtney

Jackie Speier

Zoe Lofgren

Betty McCollum


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