Senate committee targets OPEC, Big Oil
Approves bill to limit future energy company mergers, sue OPEC for unfair price fixing.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - In the wake of soaring fuel prices and near-record earnings from the oil industry, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill Thursday to restrict future oil company mergers and enable the U.S. to sue OPEC for unfair practices.
The bi-partisan bill, which received overwhelming support, would require the Federal Trade commission to consider whether future consolidations in the oil industry need closer scrutiny, according to a joint press release issued by the committee.
It would also make it a federal crime for producers raise prices by withholding supply, which would apply to both U.S. companies and OPEC, the cartel of foreign oil producing countries.
"With the high fuel prices the American consumer is enduring, it is time for an examination of what oil and gas industry consolidations have done to prices," Sen. Arlen Specter (R - Penn.), chairman of the committee, said in the statement. "This legislation will help address the excessive concentration of power in the oil industry, as well as ensure the OPEC countries - Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and others - are subject to our anti-trust laws."
The provisions passed today have been approved by the Senate before, but never made it through the House of Representatives, according to the statement.
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