Hearings on gas company price-gouging bill in D.C. today

With record-high prices at American gas pumps, some Democrats in Congress are looking to put a hold on record-high oil company profits. There were hearings on House Resolution 1252 today, a bill that would "protect consumers from price-gouging of gasoline and other fuels." Sponsored by Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan and known as the "Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act," the law aims to make it "unlawful for any person to sell crude oil, gasoline, natural gas, or petroleum distillates at a price that--
  • (A) is unconscionably excessive; or
  • (B) indicates the seller is taking unfair advantage unusual market conditions (whether real or perceived) or the circumstances of an emergency to increase prices unreasonably."
Penalties would be up to $150 million for corporations or $2 million (or 10 years in prison) for an individual. MoveOn says that Speaker Pelosi is contemplating moving the bill to a vote this week, but only if she finds a two-thirds majority required to fast track the bill through the process.

Not everyone thinks the bill is a good idea. Washington Post opinion writer George Will thinks Pelosi is wrong on this issue, and says that there's no gas "crisis." Will says that "in real (inflation-adjusted) rather than nominal dollars, $3.07 is less than gasoline cost in 1981." I'm sure that's a real (inflation-adjusted or not) comfort to everyone filling their tanks this week.

The Thomas.gov page about the bill is here.

[Source: Thomas.gov, MoveOn, PostBulletin]

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