05.05.22

Bipartisan NOPEC Bill Backed By Leahy Is OKd By The Senate Judiciary Committee

. . . Bill cracks down on OPEC’s anticompetitive actions amid fuel price surge

WASHINGTON (THURSDAY, May 5, 2022) – Bipartisan legislation backed by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to crack down on anticompetitive behavior by foreign oil producing nations advanced Thursday in the Senate Judiciary Committee.  The bill now goes to the full Senate.

The No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act, or NOPEC, will let the federal government take action against price fixing by OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, and its partner nations. The bill is sponsored by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and cosponsored by Leahy and by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah).  Their bill was approved in a strong vote of 17 to 4.  Leahy, a former chair and ranking member of the committee, led in developing and introducing earlier versions of the bill.

Leahy said:  “This is a commonsense, bipartisan bill that I have supported for years that would introduce much-needed competition into global energy markets and help keep energy prices in check for Americans.  The fact is, anticompetitive conduct by foreign oil-producing countries and organizations negatively impacts the daily lives of millions of Americans.  We need to combat that cartel behavior, and this bill would provide us with the tools to do so.  I am proud to again cosponsor this legislation, and that we have successfully advanced it out of the Judiciary Committee today.”

NOPEC explicitly authorizes 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.

NOPEC has enjoyed the support across party lines, including then-Senator Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.  Grassley, Klobuchar, Lee and Leahy reintroduced NOPEC in 2021.

Full text of the legislation is available HERE.

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