Congress, Sue Thyself

This is almost beyond parody:

The House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved legislation on
Tuesday allowing the Justice Department to sue OPEC members for
limiting oil supplies and working together to set crude prices, but the
White House threatened to veto the measure.

The bill would
subject OPEC oil producers, including Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela,
to the same antitrust laws that U.S. companies must follow.

The measure passed in a 324-84 vote, a big enough margin to override a presidential veto.

The
legislation also creates a Justice Department task force to
aggressively investigate gasoline price gouging and energy market
manipulation.

"This bill guarantees that oil prices will reflect
supply and demand economic rules, instead of wildly speculative and
perhaps illegal activities," said Democratic Rep. Steve Kagen of
Wisconsin, who sponsored the legislation.

I am sure, either through scheming or more likely incompetance, that OPEC countries are under-supplying their potential capacity for oil production.  But if we want to deem this a crime, who is the biggest criminal?   The US is the only country I know of that has, by statute, made illegal the development of enormous domestic reserves.  Just last week, Democracts in Congress, in fact the exact same folks sponsoring this bill, voted to continue an effective moratorium on US oil shale development.  No country in the world is doing less to develop the most promising oil reserves than is the US.  Congress, sue thyself.  I mocked this idea weeks ago when Hillary first suggested it.  If this passes, I would love to see the US counter-sued for not developing ANWR.  Or large areas of the Gulf.  Or most of the Pacific coast.  Or all of the Atlantic coast.  Or our largest-in-the-world oil shale deposits. 

  • Eric Jorgensen

    I don't understand how this would work, exactly. Wouldn't these foreign nations have to voluntarily submit themselves to U.S. jurisdiction?

  • Jay

    Eric,

    We might treat them like we treat owners of online gambling sites. If you get caught on American soil we will arrest them for doing something outside of U.S. sovereign territory we deem "illegal". I really would love to hear a congressional member defend why they have done jack shit in response to the WTO slap down we received for breaking the treaty through the Naziesque attack on online gambling (sponsored by Harrah's).

  • macquechoux

    How utterly modern American. The thought that we, as a nation, can sue or way to cheap oil.

  • http://www.voluntarytrade.org Skip Oliva

    Antitrust law is typically used to scaepgoat others for the negative consequences of prior government intervention. The anti-OPEC bill is just the latest heir to this proud tradition.

  • diz

    I would assume they would sue them for their collusion with each other, not their individual national policies.

    Although I confess that I don't know where one begins to sue other nations for colluding with each other, or what precedent that would set.

    It seems like nations collude on all manner of things all the time.

  • Dr. T

    Intermittently over the past two years, I have been to my teenage daughters examples of how politicians will do anything to stay in office. I think this is sleazy politicians example number 2,837,672 (but I may have undercounted).

  • Les

    I'm all for investing in the gulf, the atlantic coast, and oil-shale here in the US and opening all that up to responsible development.. however...

    ANWAR is a big target for oil-companies on the 'We can't be oil-independant because Congress won't let us drill here, the bastards.' front. But if ANWAR was opened up not a drop of that oil would end-up in American pumps. Since Exon Valdez the west-coast has blocked it's ports from recieving oil-tankers, and modern super-tankers are too big for the Panama Canal. That only leaves shipping it across Three Oceans to get it to our main tanker-hubs on the gulf-coast, and what CEO in his right mind will mandate that when there are much closer markets?

    Yes, the oil companies really want that Anwar crude.. so they can sell it to the pacific rim. Not that I blame them, and it might be enough to induce a slight supply-increase based dip in global gasoline prices, but anyone telling you it'll bring us 'oil-independance' probably has a beach-house in Arizona he wants to sell you to.

  • morganovich

    les-

    there are two flaws in your thinking:

    first, oil is a global commodity, so an increase in supply will drop prices everywhere. apart from in time of war, i doubt many care where the oil in their gasoline came from, just what it costs.

    second, there is no reason the oil could not be transported by pipeline, which would seem to be a preferable solution in many ways anyhow.