Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers in introducing the No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act (H.R. 5904). This legislation would make the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) subject to antitrust law by removing a state immunity shield created by judicial precedent.

Chairman Goodlatte, Representative Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), chief sponsor of the legislation, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), Regulatory Reform Subcommittee Chairman Tom Marino (R-Pa.), Regulatory Reform Ranking Member David Cicilline (D-R.I.), and Rep. Karen Handel (R-Ga.) have issued the following statements regarding NOPEC:

Chairman Goodlatte: “The purpose of antitrust law is to protect consumers from behemoths in any industry that threaten competition and control prices. The fact that OPEC has not been held accountable for its cartel behavior makes a mockery of U.S. antitrust law, threatens the American economy, and has the potential to harm our national security. I am pleased to join this bipartisan group of lawmakers to put an end to OPEC’s anticompetitive behavior. The enactment of NOPEC is long overdue, and I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support its passage.”

Representative Chabot: “When we first introduced this legislation more than a decade ago, gas prices were climbing toward $3 a gallon, and would eventually peak at over $4 a gallon in 2008.  In recent years, we have done a good job reducing our dependence on foreign sources of oil, by increasing domestic production.  Consequently, we have had much lower gas prices. However, we are still subject to fluctuations in the global market.  The lower prices have angered oil cartels around the world, and now OPEC is ramping up its price-gouging efforts once again.  The legislation we are reintroducing today would significantly help to fight price-gouging by subjecting OPEC nations to antitrust laws, and prohibiting them from unilaterally withholding supply with the intent of raising prices or creating a shortage.  We managed to pass this important legislation in the House a few years back, but now we must finish the job and get this bipartisan legislation to President Trump’s desk for his signature.”

Ranking Member Nadler: “The NOPEC Act will allow aggressive enforcement of U.S. antitrust law against OPEC to keep oil prices in check, and I am proud to see bipartisan cooperation on this important issue. When acting collectively, OPEC can greatly influence crude oil prices—the largest single determinant of retail gas prices—touching almost every aspect of Americans’ daily lives. Because of a series of court decisions, however, U.S. antitrust enforcers are unable to protect American consumers and businesses from the direct harm caused by OPEC’s blatantly anti-competitive conduct. The NOPEC Act directly addresses these decisions by amending procedural law and expressly authorizing the Justice Department to pursue antitrust litigation against OPEC members, should it choose to do so.”

Subcommittee Chairman Marino: “Last week in my Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law, several experts testified on the importance of the NOPEC Act and the need to hold OPEC responsible for their anticompetitive behaviors that drive up the cost of gas for all Americans.  As the summer driving season begins and gas prices begin to rise again, it is important that Congress takes necessary steps to bring relief to our constituents. The NOPEC Act will ensure that United States Antitrust law is applied effectively and fairly while bringing lower prices to the pump for consumers.”

Subcommittee Ranking Member Cicilline: “Since 1960, OPEC has manipulated the supply and price of oil with total impunity under American law. They constantly drive the cost of oil higher, meaning working people in our country end up paying more for gas for their car or heat for their homes. It’s time for this to end. I’m proud to introduce the NOPEC Act to give Americans relief from the high costs OPEC has forced on them for more than half a century.”

Representative Handel: “I’m proud to support Congressman Chabot’s NOPEC legislation to hold OPEC accountable for its anticompetitive behaviors that harm American families. With Americans hitting the road at record numbers, it is critical that our gas prices are driven by market forces instead of by the whims of a foreign oil cartel. This important legislation will provide relief to consumers, while ensuring that our crucial antitrust laws are applied fairly.”

Background:
The House Judiciary Committee recently held a hearing titled: “Accountability for OPEC: The No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act. Chairman Goodlatte’s opening statement from the hearing is available here.

This version of NOPEC is identical to the version offered in both the House and Senate during the 110th Congress.

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