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Wicker asks FTC to prove White House claims that oil and gas industry to blame for record prices

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First, the White House blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for record gas prices.  Now they’re claiming market manipulation in gas and oil markets is to blame.  Senator Roger Wicker, a ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation is calling on the Chair of the Federal Trade Commission–Lina Khan– to provide evidence to support suggestions from the White House and Democrats in Congress that market manipulation, collusion, or other improper or illegal behavior in the gas and crude oil markets is responsible.

“It is clear that gas prices have risen due to the current administration’s zealous agenda to reduce domestic oil and gas production combined with surging inflation caused by a significant increase in government spending,” Wicker wrote. “However, some have proposed that the cause of rising gas prices is not these factors but rather market manipulation or some other type of collusion among members of the oil and gas industry. If Congress is to properly address the current crisis and provide relief to Americans in need, we must be fully informed of the potential underlying causes of skyrocketing gas prices.”

Wicker’s inquiry follows recent claims that inflated gas prices are the result of exploitation by the oil and gas industry, rather than the reduction of domestic fossil fuel production and the escalating crisis in Ukraine.

Read the letter here or below.

Chair Khan: 

As you know, recent weeks have seen a dramatic increase in the price Americans have had to pay at the pump.  As of this writing, the national average price of regular gasoline is over $4.30 per gallon, nearly two dollars more than the average price a year ago.  This increase comes as American families have already had to cope with high prices at the grocery store and for consumer products. 

It is clear that gas prices have risen due to the current administration’s zealous agenda to reduce domestic oil and gas production combined with surging inflation caused by a significant increase in government spending.  These factors have been compounded by Russia’s unprovoked and misguided invasion of Ukraine, which has driven up the price of crude oil and fueled market volatility.  However, some have proposed that the cause of rising gas prices is not these factors but rather market manipulation or some other type of collusion among members of the oil and gas industry. 

If Congress is to properly address the current crisis and provide relief to Americans in need, we must be fully informed of the potential underlying causes of skyrocketing gas prices.  To assist the Commerce Committee minority in this effort, I request that you provide any evidence the FTC has gathered showing market manipulation, collusion, or other improper or illegal behavior in the gasoline and crude oil markets.  Please provide your response as soon as possible, but by no later than March 25, 2022. 

Thank you for your prompt attention to this important matter.

 

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