Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today urged President Barack Obama to replace Gary Gensler as the Commodity Futures Trading Commission chairman with someone who will enforce speculation limits on Wall Street oil and gas traders.
Sanders said Wall Street speculators were responsible for a spike in crude oil prices that, in turn, artificially drove up gasoline prices this spring to a nationwide average of almost $4 a gallon for regular unleaded.
Under Gensler, the commission has failed to enforce a provision in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which required rules to be implemented by no later than January 17, 2011, to eliminate, prevent, or diminish excessive oil speculation.
"In blatant disregard of the law, Chairman Gensler has allowed oil and gasoline prices to be dictated by Wall Street speculators instead of supply-and-demand fundamentals," Sanders wrote to the president. "As a result, the American people continue to pay much higher prices for gasoline than they should.
"At a time when gasoline prices have been a serious problem for our nation's economy and especially for people who must drive long distances to and from work in rural states like Vermont, the commission's refusal to enforce the law is inexcusable," the senator added.
Gensler's term expired in April but he continues to serve as chairman.
Sanders on March 5, 2012 sent a letter to Gensler and other commissioners urging them to stop flouting the law that required regulators to adopt tough new trading limits. The letter was signed by 24 other senators and 47 members of the House of Representatives.
Then on March 21, 2012, Sanders introduced a bill to make federal regulators invoke emergency powers to rein in speculators. The legislation, which now has 15 co-sponsors, would set a 14-day deadline for the commission to stop excessive speculation by Wall Street traders in oil futures markets.