Tammy Duckworth

05/31/2024 | Press release | Archived content

Duckworth, Durbin Join Senate Democrats to Call on DOJ to Immediately Launch Full Court Press Against Big Oil to Prevent and Prosecute Collision and Price Fixing

May 31, 2024

Duckworth, Durbin Join Senate Democrats to Call on DOJ to Immediately Launch Full Court Press Against Big Oil to Prevent and Prosecute Collision and Price Fixing

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] - U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today joined Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and 20 Democratic Senators in sending a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust Jonathan Kanter calling on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to use every tool at its disposal to prevent and prosecute collusion and price fixing in the oil industry. The letter follows a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation into the Exxon-Pioneer merger - called for by Leader Schumer and Congressional Democrats - that uncovered evidence of potential price fixing involving American oil executives and Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) officials that resulted in higher energy costs for American families and businesses.

"From pre-pandemic times to current day, industry collusion may have contributed to the 49 percent decrease in the U.S. oil production growth rate," said the Senators' letter. "Pioneer's and its co-conspirators' collusion may have cost the average American household up to $500 per car in increased annual fuel costs - an unwelcome tax that is particularly burdensome for lower-income families. Meanwhile, Western oil majors collectively earned more than $300 billion in profits over the last two years, a surge that many market experts believe cannot be explained away by increased production costs from the pandemic or inflation."

The letter calls for DOJ to launch an industry-wide investigation into possible violations of the Sherman Act to hold any bad actors accountable and to redress any harms to competition and consumers. The letter also outlined how Big Oil's alleged collusion with OPEC is a national security concern that aids countries looking to undermine the US like Iran and Russia.

"Corporate malfeasance must be confronted, or it will proliferate. These alleged offenses do not simply enrich corporations; hardworking Americans end up paying the price through higher costs for gas, fuel, and related consumer products. The DOJ must protect consumers, small businesses, and the public from petroleum-market collusion, and an important part of that mission means seeking full restitution and imposing all penalties supported by the facts and the law," the letter continued.

In addition to Duckworth, Durbin, and Schumer, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), John Fetterman (D-PA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ed Markey (D-MA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Tina Smith (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

Read the full letter text HERE.

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