Casey Outlines Plan to Combat Skyrocketing PA Gas Prices

Casey Plan Boosts Natural Gas Development, Takes On Wall Street Speculation and Confronts OPEC’s Collusive Practice

Gas Prices in Pittsburgh Area Are Up Nearly 8% Since Last Year

Casey: No Quick Fix for Record Prices At the Pump, But Commonsense Steps Can Have A Positive Impact

PITTSBURGH, PA – With gas prices in the Pittsburgh area up nearly 8% since last year, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today unveiled commonsense steps to combat Pennsylvania’s skyrocketing gas prices.

Standing near a BP Station in Pittsburgh, Casey unveiled a new proposal to boost the state’s natural gas industry, urge the Administration to use its authority to crack down on speculation in the oil market and call on Congress to pass bipartisan legislation that would allow the Justice Department to take on OPEC’s collusive practices.

“There’s no quick fix to healing the pain that Pennsylvanians are feeling at the pump, but there are commonsense steps we can take that can have an impact,” Casey said. “Expanding the development of natural gas, cracking down on Wall Street speculators and taking on OPEC are all things the federal government can do right away to help combat the rising price of gasoline.”

Specifically, Casey’s plan would:

  • Expand Natural Gas Development in Pennsylvania and Throughout the Country- Casey outlined a bill which he will introduce in the coming weeks that will fund natural gas development on the state level. Casey’s bill will provide increased funding for states to promote natural gas development and allow states to decide how best to deploy those resources- not the federal government.
  • Crack Down on Speculation in the Oil Market- Casey called on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to use its authority to limit speculation in the oil market so that investors on Wall Street cannot continue to drive up the price at the pump.
  • Take on OPEC’s Collusive Practices- Casey called on Congress to pass the bipartisan NOPEC (No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels) Act. The bill would close a loophole in current law that prevents the Department of Justice (DOJ) from bring suit against members of the OPEC cartel for collusive practices. The Casey-supported bill would close the loophole and give the DOJ the tools it needs.

The legislation Senator Casey announced today would encourage the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel by supporting State level initiatives. The abundant supply of natural gas in the United States is a vital resource that must be utilized as the country transitions to a cleaner energy portfolio. In achieving this goal, it is important to recognize that States differ in their capabilities to encourage the deployment of natural gas-based transportation and technology. The most efficient way to support States is to allow for tailored initiatives to meet different landscapes. This grant program will support States by offering both funding and flexibility to develop initiatives which support the following principles:

  • To encourage the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel;
  • To encourage public and private investment in natural gas vehicles and transportation infrastructure; and
  • To recognize that each State is different and initiatives are most effective when structured to meet the specific needs and challenges of an individual State.

In July 2010, Congress passed the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The bill gave the CFTC the authority to limit the ability of speculators on Wall Street to inflate the price of oil by putting in place position limits.  The position limits set the maximum amount of the oil market that a single speculator could control. Nearly two years after the bill became law, the CFTC has yet to use its authority to limit speculation in the oil market, leaving consumers susceptible to price spikes driven by Wall Street speculators.

The bipartisan NOPEC Act would amend the Sherman Act to declare it to be illegal and for any foreign organization to act to limit the production or distribution of oil, natural gas or engage in price fixing. The bill would permit the DOJ to bring actions against foreign states – such as members of the OPEC cartel – for collusive practices in setting the price or limiting the production of oil.