Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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A group of Democratic lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives has requested the Justice Department to investigate potential antitrust activities involving U.S. oil producers and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The lawmakers allege that the two largest U.S. oil companies have been colluding to maintain high fuel prices.

In a letter addressed to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Tuesday, nine Democratic representatives referenced a complaint by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) from May. The complaint accused the former CEO of Pioneer Natural Resources of orchestrating an “outrageous scheme” to coordinate pricing strategies between U.S. oil firms and foreign producers.

Led by Jerrold Nadler, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, the letter also pointed to the significant profits reported last year by Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron, the two largest oil companies in the United States.

“Major oil producers seem to be collaborating with one another and foreign cartels to inflate prices, thereby increasing their profits at the expense of American consumers,” the lawmakers stated. They urged the Justice Department to “fully exercise its authority to investigate and, if necessary, prosecute this anticompetitive behavior.”

The letter further accused Exxon and Chevron of “pocketing substantial profits while conspiring to maintain high prices,” rather than passing the benefits to consumers through lower prices. Exxon responded by stating that the FTC’s accusations are “entirely inconsistent with how we do business.” Chevron and OPEC did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In addition to Nadler, the letter was signed by Representatives Henry Jackson, Pramila Jayapal, and seven other Democratic lawmakers. Last month, the FTC approved Exxon’s $60 billion acquisition of Pioneer Natural Resources but barred former Pioneer CEO Scott Sheffield from joining Exxon’s board due to allegations of attempting to collude with OPEC to elevate oil prices.

Late in the previous month, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and 22 Democratic senators sent a similar letter to Attorney General Garland, echoing the call for an antitrust investigation.

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