Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced during a May 12 press conference that Democrats would bring legislation to the floor that would grant President Joe Biden sweeping new powers to impose price caps on oil companies.
Over the past year, the price of gasoline has increased dramatically. According to the Department of Labor’s most recent Consumer Price Index, consumers today are paying around 43.6 percent more for gas than they did a year ago.
Though both parties acknowledge that prices are rising at an almost unprecedented rate, Republicans and Democrats have suggested very different causes for the sharp increase.
Republicans have blamed the rising prices on Biden’s “anti-American energy policies,” including his early decision to halt construction on the Keystone XL pipeline and to place a moratorium on leasing federal lands to oil and natural gas companies.
Democrats, for their part, have blamed the increase on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and on “price gouging” by oil and natural gas companies.
On May 12, Speaker Pelosi announced that Democrats would make an attempt to counter this alleged price gouging through a bill set to come to the floor later this week.
The bill, called the “Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act,” would grant Biden the power to “issue an emergency energy declaration making it unlawful to increase gas and home energy prices in an exploitative and excessive way, which is part of the business plan of these companies,” Pelosi said.
“While families are struggling to pay higher prices at the pump, oil and gas companies are recording record profits, with the seven largest oil companies announcing buybacks that could total $41 billion this year alone,” Pelosi said.
“Again and again we see gas prices rise—sometimes when the price of oil drops,” she continued. “Price gouging needs to be stopped. This is a major exploitation of the consumer because this is a product the consumer must have.
“Again, the Putin tax hike at the pump is a part of this, and you would think that the oil companies would compensate for that rather than exploit the opportunity … So what this bill does—price gouging needs to be addressed, including new tools at the FTC [Federal Trade Commission] to address those abuses” in addition to the new powers it would grant the president.
By Joseph Lord