Webb backing bills that could push gas prices down
Item by Chris Graham
Congress is continuing its efforts to dampen market speculation as a factor in raising crude-oil prices to what some economists feel are unnatural highs.
U.S. Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., is sponsoring two pieces of legislation that would deal with the effects of speculation. S. 3134, proposed by Florida Republican Sen. Bill Nelson, would ban unregulated speculative trading of oil futures and other energy commodities. Webb is also a sponsor of Washington Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell’s S. 3185, which would close loopholes that allow energy-futures traders to evade federal oversight.
Excessive market speculation could be pushing up crude-oil prices as much as 50 percent, according to some experts. Crude-oil prices could drop to the $60- to $70-a-barrel range within 30 days if strong regulatory measures are adopted, which could push gas prices downward to the $2 to $2.25-a-gallon range in short order.
“When gas is over four dollars a gallon, Congress must act swiftly to address the degree to which irresponsible market speculators are now driving up the cost of oil,” Webb said. “According to many analysts, gas prices can be scaled back significantly just by reining in these speculators. When a solution like this is staring us in the face, those of us in government have a responsibility to take action now.”