Travis Childers commentary

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Guest Commentary

Childers: Ending speculation would have immediate effect on gas prices

Last week, the Washington Post published an article about oil speculation and its effect on soaring fuel costs. The story, entitled “A Few Speculators Dominate Vast Market for Oil Trading,” discusses how the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) examined the books of one energy conglomerate and found that the company was involved in speculation “as a profit-making investment rather than a means of lining up the actual delivery of fuel.”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

North Mississippians are struggling to afford high gas prices, and we need to crack down on price manipulators like these that are artificially increasing fuel costs. I strongly support new oil drilling, but preparing drilling sites and building a sufficient number of refineries will take years. Ending speculation, on the other hand, would have an immediate effect on reducing gas prices and providing relief for Americans.

From day one in office, I have fought against oil speculators. My first vote in Congress was to stop oil producers in the Middle East from price gouging Americans at the pump. The Gas Price Relief for Consumers Act of 2008, which passed in the House with overwhelming support, authorizes the U.S. Department of Justice to sue the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) for colluding to limit the production and supply of oil and manipulating prices.

I have also introduced a six-point energy plan to provide immediate relief to North Mississippians from prices at the pump and offer long-term solutions to our nation’s energy crisis. The first point in my plan is to stop speculation and price gouging as a means of providing this immediate relief.

As the CFTC findings in the Washington Post article suggest, there is reason to believe that speculation is artificially inflating the price of crude oil and other energy commodities. That’s why I supported the bipartisan Energy Markets Emergency Act, which directs the CFTC to use its authority to eliminate excessive oil speculation, price distortion, and sudden or unwarranted changes in prices.

In July, the Agriculture Committee held an investigation on oil speculation. I serve on this Committee and participated in multiple hearings to explore various solutions to inflated prices of oil and other commodities, and to provide a general overview of current legislation to address issues surrounding commodities markets.

By stopping current oil speculation and preventing future price manipulation, we can start to drive down gas prices. I will continue to support and initiate important legislation and investigations that aim to end oil speculation and bring down the cost of fuel for North Mississippians.