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Bill will allow antitrust suits against OPEC

graphic

June 24, 2000
Web posted at: 2:43 a.m. EDT (0643 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. consumers angered by the high price they are paying for gasoline will be able to sue the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, if a bill introduced in the House on Friday becomes law.

Rep. Benjamin Gilman, R-N.Y., chairman of the House International Relations Committee, blamed the international oil cartel -- which sets production levels for many oil-producing nations -- for the recent spike in gas prices in this country when he announced the Foreign Trust Busting Act at a news conference.

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"They turned the tap off. They reduced the supply to our nation," he said angrily.

The bill would allow suits against overseas energy cartels by removing a legal obstacle known as the 'Act of State' doctrine, under which "courts generally don't question the official acts of foreign governments," Gilman said.

The bill would allow judges to seize OPEC's American assets, according to an aide to the congressman.

A second bill introduced by Gilman directs the president to ensure that the United States and other countries and organizations are not "directly or indirectly promoting the oil price-fixing activities, policies, and programs of OPEC."

The purpose of the two bills, Gilman said, is "to give this administration and the next administration the tools they need to get a fair price of gas for American consumers."

Midwest gas prices ease -- a little

Gas prices in the Midwest -- one of the hardest-hit areas of the United States -- have begun to come down in recent days.

Despite the downward trend, some motorists in the region still are facing gas prices of more than $2 per gallon.

Industry analysts say pump prices are sometimes slow to reflect downward movement in wholesale prices because marketers still have to sell stocks bought at higher prices.




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June 22, 2000

RELATED SITES:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. Department of Energy

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