U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today issued the following statement on a federal court decision to stop the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) from implementing portions of the bipartisan Wall Street Reform Law aimed at cracking down on speculation that causes high gas prices:
"This decision defies logic and it defies history. We're seeing gas prices rise long before the peak summer driving season--and excessive oil speculation is a key source of these cost spikes. In fact, one recent report showed that out-of-control speculation added 56 cents to the price of every gallon of gasoline from the pump--and that's outrageous.
"Today, a federal court has disregarded the Wall Street reform bill, the will of Congress, the expert judgment of the CFTC, and numerous economic studies calling for curbs on excessive speculation. By striking down the CFTC's rule, this decision will cause consumers to suffer at the pump and in the grocery aisle, and it has put our economy at risk. I remain committed to protecting the bipartisan Wall Street reform law and putting an end to excessive speculation."
Brown, a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Senate Committee on Banking, signed the amicus brief in support of the CFTC rule. In January 2011, Brown wrote to the CFTC urging the agency to use its full authority under the recently-passed financial reform bill to protect consumers and small businesses from artificially inflated gas prices. He is also a sponsor of the No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels (NOPEC) Act, which would give the U.S. Attorney General the authority to pursue legal action against oil-producing nations, like the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), that band together to manipulate the price of oil, natural gas, or any petroleum product. The bill clarifies that OPEC's activities are not protected by sovereign immunity and that the federal courts should not decline to hear such a case based on the "act of state" doctrine. This would enable the Department of Justice to take action against foreign states for colluding to set the price or limit production of oil. He has also called on U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to push Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to increase production levels.