House bill would make DOE form oil-market study group

Nick Snow
Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, June 13 -- US House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Dingell (D-Mich.) introduced a bill on June 11 to make the US Department of Energy form an interagency working group to identify factors influences crude oil and product prices.

A day earlier, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission announced that it had formed its own interagency taskforce to examine investment practices, fundamental supply and demand factors, and the possible of role of speculators and index traders in energy commodity markets.

"Given the record energy prices that are harming businesses, farmers, consumers, and our economy as a whole, Congress should act to determine the precise effects that manipulation and speculation are having on energy prices and work to identify where there are gaps in regulation that allow this rampant speculation," Dingell said as he announced his legislation.

The measure, which is cosponsored by the committee's ranking minority member, Joe Barton (R-Tex.), would direct DOE to establish a working group which would include representatives from the CFTC, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Federal Trade Commission, and Securities and Exchange Commission.

Under the US Energy secretary's leadership, the working group would advise Congress of data collection gaps domestically and abroad, and assess whether the existing framework for policing financial and physical markets can or should be strengthened, Dingell said. It would report to Congress quarterly and complete its study within a year of the bill's being signed into law, he added.

CFTC Chairman Walter L. Lukken announced the formation of that regulatory agency's working group at the first meeting of the commission's Energy Markets Advisory Committee on June 10. "It is intended to bring together the best and brightest minds in government to aid public and regulatory understanding of the forces that are affecting the function of these markets, and it will strive to complete its work quickly and make public its results," he said.

US Energy Information Administration chief Guy F. Caruso; Kevin Kelly, FERC's policy analysis and rulemaking director; Patricia V. Galvan, from the oil and gas division in the FTC's Bureau of Competition; and Bill Hederman, from the Congressional Research Service, attended the CFTC Energy Markets Advisory Committee's meeting as government observers.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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