Senate considers bill to limit energy futures speculation

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line staff writer | 7/17/2008

To address high fuel prices at the pump, the U.S. Senate is considering a law that goes directly to the source – oil commodities trading and speculators blamed for rapid increases in oil prices.

Trading of oil futures by speculators has been blamed for increasing the cost of gas by as much as 50 percent. Elected officials have introduced a flurry of bills aimed at closing the “Enron loophole,” which allowed overseas trading of U.S. oil and preceded huge increases in oil speculation over the last five years.

Senators planned to discuss the Stop Excessive Energy Speculation Act –S3268 – Thursday, July 17, Congressional Quarterly reported. The bill would add 100 full-time employees to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the agency charged with regulating futures trading, and would limit speculation trading “by those who are not trading actual physical petroleum products.”

The bill also would force U.S.-based oil traders to comply with U.S. trading regulations even when operating through foreign exchanges.

“Right now, Wall Street traders are raising gas prices with nothing more than the click of a mouse,” said Sen. Harry Reid, D-NV, said in a written statement. “Without regard of anything but their own profits, traders are bidding up prices by buying huge quantities of oil just to sell them at an even higher price.”

“This bill will address the rising cost of gasoline in the short-term, prevent Wall Street traders from gaming the oil markets, and ensure that American consumers are paying a fair price at the pump,” Reid said.

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