Bipartisan legislation led by Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley to crack down on anticompetitive behavior by foreign oil producing nations advanced today in the committee. The No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act, or NOPEC, will let the federal government take action against price fixing by OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, and its partner nations. The bill is cosponsored by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and advanced in committee today by a vote of 17-4.
“Because of this administration’s policies, we’ve gone from being a net energy exporter to being a nation at the mercy of OPEC and its partners, which regularly colludes to fix prices. Americans shouldn’t have to contend with sky-high energy prices, especially when we have a wealth of energy potential right under our feet. But if this administration insists on making us reliant on foreign oil, we should at least hold foreign producers accountable for harmful price fixing. I thank my colleagues for working together to advance this bipartisan bill,” Grassley said.
“Competition in international oil markets helps ensure that American families pay fair prices at the pump. But, current law has made the Justice Department powerless to stop OPEC from manipulating prices and driving up costs. This bipartisan legislation would allow U.S. antitrust laws to be enforced against OPEC producers,” Klobuchar said.
“This is a commonsense, bipartisan bill that I have supported for years that would introduce much-needed competition into global energy markets and help keep energy prices in check for Americans. The fact is, anticompetitive conduct by foreign oil-producing countries and organizations negatively impacts the daily lives of millions of Americans. We need to combat that cartel behavior, and this bill would provide us with the tools to do so. I am proud to again cosponsor this legislation, and that we have successfully advanced it out of the Judiciary Committee today,” Leahy said.
NOPEC explicitly authorizes the Justice Department to bring lawsuits against oil cartel members for antitrust violations. It would clarify that neither sovereign immunity nor the “Act of State” doctrine prevents a court from ruling on antitrust charges brought against foreign governments for engaging in illegal pricing, production and distribution of petroleum products.
NOPEC has enjoyed the support from across party lines, including then-Senator Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. Grassley, Klobuchar, Lee and Leahy reintroduced NOPEC in 2021. In the Fall of 2021, Grassley pressed the Justice Department and President Biden to prioritize the bill to hold foreign oil producers accountable for anticompetitive behavior at a time when the administration was lobbying them to reduce oil prices.