May 19, 2022

Rep. Mike Levin Introduces Bill to Crack Down on Big Oil Gas Price Gouging

Levin’s Legislation Expected to Be Considered by the House as Part of the Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Mike Levin (D-CA) announced his introduction of the Transportation Fuel Market Transparency Act, which would significantly increase transparency within oil and gas markets and direct the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to proactively prevent any fraud or manipulation artificially increasing gas prices. The legislation is expected to be included as part of the Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act, which the House is preparing to consider today.

“Americans across the country are feeling the pain of high prices at the gas pump, and rather than helping provide some relief for consumers, oil and gas companies are jacking up prices and raking in record-breaking profits,” said Rep. Levin.  “We cannot allow Big Oil to take advantage of the war in Ukraine and other inflationary pressures to raise prices well beyond fair market rates. While that’s helped CEOs and shareholders line their own pockets with record profits, it does an incredible disservice to everyday Americans who are paying for it at the pump, and I won’t allow them to continue to get away with it. My bill will finally crack down on any oil and gas companies that are using false information to distort fuel markets and will double the maximum penalty for any bad actors to $2 million per day for each violation. Big Oil companies should be on notice that they will be held accountable for taking advantage of the American people.”

The Transportation Fuel Market Transparency Act strengthens the FTC’s authority to address disinformation in oil and gas markets that is meant to inflate retail prices for consumers. It also establishes a new Transportation Fuel Monitoring and Enforcement Unit at the FTC dedicated to defending consumers by monitoring fuel markets and facilitating transparency and competitiveness. The new FTC unit will also report on manipulation or false information used to distort fuel markets and will advise the FTC on appropriate penalties for perpetrators. The bill also doubles the maximum penalty for manipulating wholesale oil markets to $2 million per day for each violation. Finally, the bill directs the Energy Information Administration to publish more detailed information on the quantity and pricing of transportation fuels to facilitate price transparency, competition, and compliance with international sanctions.

In 2021, Exxon and Chevron recorded their highest profits since 2014 at $23 billion and $15.6 billion respectively. Both companies announced huge increases in stock buybacks earlier this year. As Bloomberg reported last month, “despite pleas from politicians to ease the burden on consumers, the biggest U.S. oil explorers are focused on rewarding investors while keeping drilling budgets in check.” Earlier this year, BP CFO Murray Auchincloss told investors, “it is possible that we are getting more cash than we know what to do with.”

Rep. Chris Pappas (D-NH) is an original cosponsor. Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) have introduced companion legislation in the Senate.