During the past few days (and as recently as this morning), President Bush has repeatedly declared that his Administration is closely watching gasoline markets and will investigate any price gouging, illegal manipulation or other possible cheating in these markets.
· Democrats Strongly Supported an Investigation of Gasoline Prices, as put in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Section 1809 of the EPACT05 directed the Federal Trade Commission “to conduct an investigation to determine if the price of gasoline is being artificially manipulated by reducing refinery capacity or by any other form of market manipulation or price gouging practices.” The provision in the law asked the FTC to submit to Congress, not later than 90 days after enactment, the results of its investigation and any recommendations the FTC might have. That was last August; so far, the FTC has not delivered. [PL 109-58, Sec. 1809, 08/08/05]
· Democrats Fought to Toughen Federal Anti-Price Gouging Powers. Senate Democrats, along with moderate Republicans, stood with Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) in supporting new legislation to give the Federal Trade Commission new powers to protect consumers from price gouging during energy emergencies. Her amendment was opposed and rejected on a largely party-line vote. [ RC 334, S. Amdt. 2612 to S. 2020, 57-42, 11/17/05]
· Democrats Forced the Federal Trade Commission to Complete a Price Gouging Investigation. Led by Sen. Mark Pryor, Senate Democrats successfully proposed a provision to force the Federal Trade Commission to complete a new investigation into whether oil and gas companies had gouged consumers by inflating their prices after Hurricane Katrina. Pryor's amendment, approved by voice vote, required that the FTC use no less than $1 million to conduct an immediate investigation to determine if and where gas price gouging is occurring throughout the supply chain and distribution markets. The amendment was included in the Commerce, State and Justice FY05 Appropriations bill. [ PL109-108, Sec. 632, 11/22/05]
Sens. Bingaman (NM), Cantwell (WA), Nelson (FL), and Pryor (AR) took the lead in writing this letter:
April 25, 2006
The White House
Akaka Baucus Bayh Biden Bingaman Boxer Cantwell Carper Clinton Conrad Dayton Dorgan Durbin Feingold Feinstein Johnson Kennedy Kohl Landrieu Lautenberg Leahy Levin Lieberman Lincoln Menendez Murray Mikulski Murray Nelson Obama Pryor Reed Reid Rockefeller Salazar Stabenow Wyden