Press Release

June 26, 2014
Cardin Calls for Emergency Action to Stop Price Spikes Caused by Oil Speculators

WASHINGTON– U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) today cosponsored legislation with Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to give federal regulators emergency power to stop speculators from taking advantage of turmoil in Iraq to drive up oil prices and make motorists pay more for gasoline.


“There is no logical reason why gas prices should continue to rise if oil supplies are up and demand is down. Big Oil and Wall Street speculators are preying on Americans’ pocketbooks and it’s just wrong,” said Senator Cardin, member of the Senate Finance Committee. “Using the ongoing conflict in Iraq and every other geopolitical excuse possible to increase profits is a truly disappointing tactic to artificially inflate the price of oil. Our bill reins in the excessive and malicious speculation that should have no place in the market.”


Wall Street has pushed up the price of crude oil by more than 5 percent since June 12, when militants attacked and took control of several Iraqi cities. In the longer term, oil prices have risen 53 percent since 2009.


While developments in Iraq have had no impact on the supply of gasoline in the United States today, gas is more expensive now than it’s been in six years at the beginning of the summer driving season, according to AAA.  The increase has occurred despite the fact that the supply of gasoline is 4.3 percent higher and demand is 1 percent lower than it was five years ago, when national gas prices averaged $2.69 a gallon. 


The legislation would force the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the federal agency that regulates oil markets, to use to use all of its authority, including its emergency powers, to eliminate excessive oil speculation.


In addition to Senator Cardin, the Senate bill is cosponsored by Senators Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii).


Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) introduced a companion bill in the House.


There is mounting evidence linking excessive speculation on oil to the high pump prices for gasoline. Exxon Mobil, Goldman Sachs, the International Monetary Fund, the St. Louis Federal Reserve, the American Trucking Association, Delta Airlines, the Petroleum Marketers Association of America, the New England Fuel Institute, the Consumer Federation of America and others have blamed excessive oil speculation for significant increases in oil and gas prices. Goldman Sachs, perhaps the largest speculator on Wall Street, has acknowledged that excessive oil speculation costs Americans at least 56 cents a gallon at the pump.


To read the legislation, click here.