WASHINGTON, D.C. – After OPEC refused to boost oil output today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) called for the swift passage of legislation that would crack down on price-fixing by OPEC countries that increases gas prices. The No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels (NOPEC) Act would give the U.S. new authority to take action against OPEC countries that manipulate the price of oil through collusion or price-fixing.
“As summer driving season hits, millions of Ohioans have already been struggling with prices at the pump for months on end,” Brown said. “This year’s global unrest and rampant speculation have driven up prices and Ohioans shouldn’t also be subjected to the kind of price fixing we see today. This bill will relieve some of the pain at the pump and I remain committed to its passage while fighting for working and middle-class Ohioans.”
Currently, the U.S. does not have the authority to take legal action against oil-producing nations who manipulate the price of crude oil through price-fixing or collusion. The NOPEC Act would give the U.S. Attorney General the authority to pursue legal action against oil-producing nations, like the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), that band together to manipulate the price of oil, natural gas, or any petroleum product. The bill clarifies that OPEC’s activities are not protected by sovereign immunity and that the federal courts should not decline to hear such a case based on the "act of state" doctrine. This would enable the Department of Justice to take action against foreign states for colluding to set the price or limit production of oil. Brown also cosponsored this bill in the 110th Congress.
Brown is working to lower gas prices for Ohio’s families and small businesses. Earlier this year, Brown announced new plans for cracking down on oil speculation, which may be responsible in part for driving up prices at the pump. Brown sent a letter to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) urging the agency to use its full authority under the recently-passed financial reform bill to protect consumers and small businesses from artificially inflated gas prices. He has also called on U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to push Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to increase production levels.