Legislation will allow Department of Justice to bring antitrust charges for illegal pricing practices by OPEC and its members
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) today introduced bipartisan legislation that will allow the federal government take action against price fixing by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels (NOPEC) Act would explicitly authorize the Justice Department to bring lawsuits against oil cartel members for antitrust violations. It would establish that neither sovereign immunity nor the “Act of State” doctrine prevents a court from ruling on antitrust charges brought against foreign governments for engaging in the illegal pricing, production or distribution of petroleum products.
“Open competition in international oil markets is critical to ensuring that American families pay fair prices at the pump. But under current law, the Justice Department is powerless to stop OPEC and its members from coordinating oil production to manipulate prices and supply, driving up fuel costs for millions of American consumers,” Klobuchar said. “Our bipartisan legislation would allow U.S. antitrust laws to be enforced against OPEC producers, helping to ensure that U.S. gas prices are fair and affordable.”
“It’s long past time to put an end to illegal price fixing by OPEC. The oil cartel and its member countries need to know that we are committed to stopping their anti-competitive behavior,” Grassley said. “We, in the United States, have been working for years to develop our domestic clean, renewable and alternative energy resources. We’re also committed to reducing our reliance on foreign oil, especially when it’s artificially and illegally priced. Our bill shows the OPEC members we will not tolerate their flagrant antitrust violations.”
As Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, Klobuchar has championed efforts to protect consumers, promote competition, and fight consolidation in several industries including the agriculture, telecommunications, and pharmaceutical industry. She has led the fight against anticompetitive conduct in the pharmaceutical industry that increase prescription drug prices, including authoring multiple pieces of legislation, including the Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act to prevent abusive tactics that prevent affordable drugs from entering the market and the bipartisan Preserve Access to Affordable Generics Act to crack down on anti-competitive pay-offs in which branded companies pay their generic competitors not to compete as part of a patent settlement. She has called for strong antitrust review and enforcement to protect consumers from mergers that raise prices or harm competition, including the Comcast-Time Warner Cable, AT&T-Time Warner Inc., and Anheuser-Busch/Miller-Coors and consolidation in the agricultural industry and the online travel industry. She has also led the call to protect the independence and integrity of the antitrust enforcement agencies from political interference by the Trump administration.