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The House passed the bill designed to stop companies from “price gouging” when it comes to gasoline.
The bill, known as the Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act, or H.R. 7688, passed with a vote of 217-207. No Republicans voted for the bill, and four Democrats voted against it, including Stephanie Murphy, Lizzie Fletcher, Kathleen Rice, and Jared Golden.
The bill now heads for the Senate, where it is likely to face stiffer resistance, needing a minimum of 10 Republicans in support of the bill for it to pass.
The bill would prevent gasoline price hikes during national energy emergencies and abnormal market disruptions - as declared by the President. If the bill passes in the Senate, the FTC and state attorneys general would have the power to enforce a federal ban against excessive price increases and issue penalties, no matter where that seller is along the price chain. It would also increase company requirements for disclosing their pricing strategies in SEC filings.
It would also grant more funding to the FTC.
For months the subject of high crude oil and gasoline prices has snowballed into a political firestorm, with Democrats claiming that oil companies are engaging in price gouging while raking in record profits, and Republicans arguing that accusations of price gouging and profiteering are just an attempt to deflect blame in an election year.
The oil industry has maintained that market forces and government policies are behind today’s higher prices, with some analysts warning that very low inventories of oil products in the United States—including gasoline—along with a shortage of refining capacity, have laid the groundwork for a likely oil shortage crisis this summer.
The national average price of a gallon of gasoline rose to $4.589 on Thursday - another new high and a $.17 per gallon increase from a week ago according to AAA.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.