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Major Fuel Distributor Calls for Enforcing Dodd-Frank Anti-Speculation Provisions

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Speaker, last month, I met in my office with Joseph Petrowski, who is the Chief Executive Officer of the Cumberland Gulf Group of Companies, headquartered in the district of my friend and colleague, the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Markey). I was interested in meeting with Mr. Petrowski to get his view of the current debate that is going on as to whether or not we should be taking action at the Federal level to curb speculation in the energy industry. As Mr. Petrowski notes in the accompanying letter, the Cumberland Gulf Group includes "Gulf Oil, which distributes motor fuels through a network of more than 3,500 gasoline stations in over 27 States, 12 proprietary oil terminals, and more than 70 other supply terminals.'' As he notes, "Gulf Oil supplies gasoline, heating oil, diesel fuel, jet fuel and kerosense through its terminal network.''

Mr. Speaker, the central point is that Mr. Petrowski, as someone who is in the business of selling various forms of fuel, for the ultimate purchase by individual consumers, rebuts those who argue that speculation is irrelevant to the price that is paid at the pump and elsewhere by consumers, as Mr. Petrowski notes in the accompanying letter, "Today with price levels more volatile than ever, prices higher than ever, and open interest larger than ever, and both exchange and off exchange volume of trade a double digit multiple to physical usage, there is little doubt that speculation is a key determinant of prices and may very well be the determining factor in setting prices.''

Mr. Speaker, this point deserves great emphasis--to repeat, because of the centrality of this to our policy debate, the CEO of one of the leading distributors of gasoline, oil and diesel fuel affirms, based on the experience he has had in this industry for many years and the current economics, "there is little doubt that speculation is the key determinant of prices and may very well be the determining factor in setting prices.''

Mr. Speaker, there has been a totally misguided effort here in this House to slash funds for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission, and to suspend until late next year the authority given by the Financial Reform bill to Federal regulators to limit speculation. Mr. Petrowski makes very clear that the effect of this is to add to higher prices through unchecked speculation, and given the authority that he brings to this issue, I ask that his very thoughtful letter on this subject be printed here.

I know, Mr. Speaker, that in addition to affirming the importance of speculation, Mr. Petrowski makes some other thoughtful suggestions about legislative changes and it is my intention to study these carefully and after that talk with my colleagues on the Financial Services Committee about acting on Mr. Petrowski's suggestions in some respects. But the key point is to affirm here what one of the leading voices in the fuel business thinks about speculation and the impact it has on the prices ultimately paid by retailers.

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