Leahy And Grassley Introduce Bipartisan Bill To Fight Price Fixing By OPEC

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) joined Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and a bipartisan group of Judiciary Committee senators Thursday to introduce bipartisan legislation that would let the federal government take action against price fixing by OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Senators Amy Klobuchar of (D-Minn.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) also cosponsored the legislation.

“As Vermonters struggle to heat their homes through another frigid winter, it’s vital to make sure that oil prices are not artificially inflated.  I’ve long supported this legislation because it will crack down on the types of anti-competitive behavior that cause prices to spike for Vermonters trying to stay warm through winter, to use their farm equipment, or to get to their jobs or to the market.  In this new Congress I’m hopeful we will finally enact these reforms into law,” Leahy said.

The No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act, or NOPEC, would explicitly authorize the Justice Department to bring lawsuits against oil cartel members for antitrust violations.  Leahy first introduced the legislation in 2000 with former Senator Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.).  The bill would clarify that neither sovereign immunity nor the “Act of State” doctrine prevents a court from ruling on antitrust charges brought against foreign governments for engaging in illegal pricing, production and distribution of petroleum products.

OPEC is a 15-member organization that accounts for more than 73 percent of the world’s crude oil reserves.  According to recent news reports, OPEC and a group of other oil-producing nations led by Russia are exploring an agreement that could further distort the global petroleum market.

The House Judiciary Committee today advanced identical bipartisan legislation by voice vote without objection.

Text of the Senate legislation is available HERE.

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