03.26.21

As Oil Prices Rise Amid Production Cuts, Leahy And Others Introduce Bipartisan Bill To Fight Price Fixing By OPEC

. . . . Legislation, Originated By Leahy, Would Allow DOJ To Bring Antitrust Charges For Illegal Pricing Practices

(FRIDAY, March 26, 2021) -- Amid rising oil prices fueled by foreign production cuts, a bipartisan group of Senate Judiciary Committee members have reintroduced legislation that will let the federal government take action against price fixing by OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. The No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act, or NOPEC, is led by the committee’s ranking member, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and cosponsored by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Mike Lee (R-Utah).  Leahy originally wrote and introduced the bill several years ago, joined by former Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.).

“It’s long past time to put an end to illegal price fixing by OPEC. The oil cartel and its member countries need to know that we are committed to stopping their anti-competitive behavior. We, in the United States, have been working for years to develop our domestic clean, renewable and alternative energy resources. We’re also committed to reducing our reliance on foreign oil, especially when it’s artificially and illegally priced. Our bill shows the OPEC members we will not tolerate their flagrant antitrust violations,” Grassley said.

“As Vermonters and all Americans suffer through the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, they shouldn’t be subject to artificially inflated oil prices that impact virtually every aspect of their lives.  Oil-producing countries shouldn’t get a free pass to engage in anti-competitive conduct that directly harms millions of Americans.  I’m proud to again cosponsor our longstanding, bipartisan legislation to curb precisely that type of conduct.  I’m hopeful that Congress will finally enact these much-needed reforms into law,” Leahy said.

NOPEC would explicitly authorize the Justice Department to bring lawsuits against oil cartel members for antitrust violations. It 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 controls more than 73 percent of the world’s crude oil reserves.

Full text of the legislation is available HERE

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