After the Federal Trade Commission issued its report this
week stating that it found no evidence of price gouging following Hurricane
Katrina, Sen. Ted Stevens, R-AK, said he would draft a bill to outlaw excessive
fuel price increases.
Reuters reported that Stevens announced his plans at
a hearing in which many senators expressed frustration with rising fuel prices,
and criticized the oil industry and the FTC.
Stevens told the committee that specifics of the bill had
not yet been decided, according to Reuters. He did say, however, that he
planned to find a way to define price gouging “so that (the law) can be
A similar bill already won approval in the House of
Representatives in early May.
Known as the Federal Energy Price Protection Act of 2006,
the House bill – HR5253 – would impose strict penalties for price gouging.
The bill directs the FTC to create an official rule defining
what constitutes price gouging, and then orders that agency to begin
enforcement of that rule.
In addition, the House bill would give state attorneys the
authority to bring civil action against possible price gougers. The bill would
establish civil penalties for price gouging as high as $3 million for each day
of an ongoing violation. Criminal punishment could be as high as $150 million
in fines and two years in prison.
That bill was received in the Senate on May 4, but has seen
no action since that date.