Thursday, May 04, 2006, 4:29 PM

House Bill on Price Gouging and FTC Website on Oil and Gas Issues

The U.S. House or Rep. approved a bill yesterday that would prohibit price gouging -- at any time -- in the market for gasoline, diesel fuel, crude oil, home heating oil, and biofuels. The bill directs the Federal Trade Commission to define the terms "price gouging" consistent with the traditional unfairness principles under section 5(n) of the FTC Act, as well as the terms "wholesale sale" and "retail sale." The bill authorizes civil enforcement by the FTC and state attorneys general and criminal enforcement by the U.S. Attorney General and Department of Justice. The WSJ reports that a version of this bill is likely to be approved by the Senate. For more information on the bill see this link.

In related news, the FTC debuts an enhanced website dedicated to oil and gasoline related issues. The overview states:

"The Federal Trade Commission maintains competition in the petroleum industry, and has invoked all the powers at its disposal -- including the investigation of possible antitrust violations, the prosecution of cases, the preparation of studies, and advocacy before other government agencies -- to protect consumers from anticompetitive conduct and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the industry. In doing so, the FTC has assembled vast competition policy and enforcement expertise in matters affecting the production and distribution of gasoline. This website describes the FTC's oversight of the petroleum industry, with special sections on our activities related to merger enforcement, anticompetitive nonmerger activity, and gasoline price data. It also features reports and economic working papers, Congressional testimony, advocacy work, conference proceedings, and studies. Check it often for updates and information on new initiatives."

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