July 22nd, 2008
12:15 PM ET
15 years ago

Dems push for crackdown on oil speculators

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/05/06/thecapitol.jpg caption="Democrats on Capitol Hill are pushing for a crackdown on oil price speculators Tuesday."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Senate Democrats say one way to lower oil prices is to crackdown on oil price speculators - investors who trade in oil contracts aiming to profit from changes in prices.

But Republicans are skeptical. Senate Republican Charles Grassley of Iowa charges that Democrats' demands to curb speculating is a "fig leaf" to avoid more drilling for oil in the United States.

The Senate is facing a test vote on a Democratic bill that would reign in excessive oil price speculation.

Grassley says it the "right thing" to further regulate oil speculating but he says Congress needs a much more balanced approach including more U.S. oil exploration and development; greater conservation and more use of alternative fuels including ethanol. Much of the nation's ethanol production comes from corn grown in Grassley's home state.

Listen: Sen. Grassley talks to CNN Radio

Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, one of the main sponsors of the bill to stop excessive oil price speculating, estimates that "as much as 20 to 30 to 40 percent of the current price could be taken off if you got rid of excessive speculation."

Filed under: Congress
soundoff (75 Responses)
  1. Livonia, MI

    I'll say it again, more offshore drilling is not the answer. If it was, why didn't our beloved Bush push for it and get 'er done doing his 7 1/2 years in office? No. We need more refineries, more sugar ethanol, more alternative fuels, and increased diverse global trade. And the "economists" have analyzed the situation and have reached the same conclusion – More drilling is not the answer.

    July 22, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  2. Paul Virginia Beach

    The vultures raked in billions of dollars while picking your bones clean in the mortgage market while Congress watched from the sidelines (and are only now trying to revive the corpse). Now the vultures are picking you clean at the gas pump. You can expect the Roadblock Republicans to do the bidding of their high-rolling oil company and investment bank cronies rather than the average consumer when (and if) this ever comes to the floor for a vote.

    July 22, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  3. john williams san diego, ca.

    drill now or ten years from now it will be too late...any oil embargo to our country will cripple us and the green machine is 20 years away not 10

    July 22, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  4. susie

    The Democrats are all talk and no action.

    July 22, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  5. Chris from NY

    TOO LITTLE TOO LATE BUT STILL LATE THAN NEVER. They should also go after McCain and his surrogate Phil Gramm and Dick Chenney. Did anyone ever find out what was discussed in his in this white house energy policy meeting? Congress should have gone after him on that.

    July 22, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  6. Crush Rush

    This is the root of the gas price fix.Regulate them now and hard,even though they have made billions already.Tax them too and big time.Its our money,take it back.

    July 22, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  7. rice, bryan

    can you imagine a republican not wanting to close the enron loop hole. they don't want to close it, and they want to drill, when big oil already has 80,000,000 acres of off shore that they already own, but not drilling. wanting to drill in new areas when 80 percent of the oil platforms that are already drilled are not producing one drop. just like small children, always wanting a second helping of desert before they have even finished with their first. we have the technology to produce electric cars, we sell one country enough ethynol chemicals to produce enough to be free from oil. drilling for more oil, is like putting another hole in your head. that's like voting for bush again, wait a minute that's what its going to be if mcbush gets in.

    July 22, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  8. Andre' for Obama

    I noticed that prices are dropping. Those individuals that have been ripping us off are trying to get there hands clean. Loof fast I think Bush and Cheney are at the sink right now!!!

    July 22, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  9. r sisk, nevada

    It's high time for our ELECTED officials to listen to their constituents. The problem is not finding more oil, the problem is ridding ourselves from the dependence of oil. The technology is here, it just needs to be implemented WITHOUT the big oil companies blocking the avenues.

    Why is it the GOP is so into expanding the oil drilling sites when so much of the already designated exploration lands aren't being utilized? Why are we even discussing this? So many problems would be solved when we can get off of fossil fuel dependence. WAKE UP.

    July 22, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  10. Porter

    We know it couldn't possibly be the huge demand and limited supply coupled with the declining value of the dollar. Nah, that couldn't be it. Let's just ignore those problems and focus on even more regulation and maybe some tax holidays. That is surely the answer.

    July 22, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  11. Upon Further Review,Texas

    Expose the people that have made a fortune here as well.You will be surprised at the names you will find.They are the manipulators of the market and lowest form of humanity.

    July 22, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  12. Annette

    Yes, it's about time!

    July 22, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  13. Mark Ramsey MD Milwaukee WI

    Speculating is the main reason that gas prices are so artificially elevated. It makes sense to stop speculation on this one product to see if that would help prices. The answer is not to drill for more oil. It's time for us to change our focus to renewable energy, because even if we drilled and found every drop of oil in the U.S. we're still going to run out, and soon. Estimates are that by 2050 the planet will be out of oil. What then? It's time to change our priorities and start looking for renewable sources. Solar and wind alone could provide a very large percentage of America's needs, plus create jobs by building them. Oh, and by the way, I agree with Mrs. L. Some of you really need to work on your spelling and grammar.

    July 22, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  14. James Hussein, SC

    Demand is down, supply has increased, and yet oil prices are up.

    Republicans want to make it available for oil companies to drill new area before they finish testing what they have. Oil companies say the places they are allowed to drill may be 25% reliable sources, yet they also say that the proposed new locations have the same probability as current. It takes a minimum of 5 years to get the first drop. We can change the behavior of the speculators in days. Which choice is best?

    July 22, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  15. John McShame, Obama Is Going to Tax You & Cindy, but Not Me & 95% Americans Making < $250,000/Yr

    the republicans just want to give Dubya & Dick Cheney's Halliburton more oil well to drill now and make more profits...

    they dont care about the environment and dont give a darn if americans dont see a drop of oil in 10yrs...same reason we went to Iraq, but now that the Iraqis wants us out.....the republicans want to start their OIL WAR HERE IN THE U.S.A!

    we can't drill ourselve out of $4 gas.............we need to end the speculation and provide alternative energy.


    July 22, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  16. White/female/age 55/Texan

    Melinda in Charlotte, that is not exactly correct. "It is a stupid idea that will not work. All oil speculators do is try to guess what oil will be worth at some future date'

    They promise to buy a certain amount at a certain price the next month. The ones who have really won are the ones who bought at 100 a barrel and now sell at 135 (or what ever it is). and the oil companies, who are getting this higher price for their oil. The ones that are driving it now are the ones who are specualting that their 135 oil will go to 150. But, they may have found the top, because demand has gone down. OPEC is worried that we won't keep buying.

    July 22, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  17. Mike in NYC

    It's not just "speculators" who are driving up energy prices.

    You'd also have to restrict inflows from institutional investment vehicles (pension funds, mutual funds, city/state investment portfolios) seeking the superior returns and inflation protection offered by commodities. They’re just better investments at the moment. Equities aren’t seen as good investments right now, due to slowing economies, and inflation isn’t helping bonds.

    July 22, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  18. lady in michigan

    Why call it a "crackdown"? The rest of the world thinks of responsible policies as "regulations." The word "laws" comes to mind as well...

    July 22, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  19. Chris


    July 22, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  20. I want high oil price so I get more Dividend Income

    Here we go with the Republicans crying like little girls and insulting the Dems because they know change is coming. Americans are tired of know-it-all Repubs. They want to drill more to please their Oil friends to give more divs from the Corporation's earnings. If you get speculators out of the way, less money gets released to the rich as dividend income. The Repubs do not want us to save, they need Big Oil to make as much moeny as they can and contribute. What gets me is they convinced the simple-minded followers of General of the World Napoleon McCain to say we need to drill now.

    July 22, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  21. Crush Rush

    Orange jumpsuits are in order for speculators,they stole OUR money.Make their NAMES KNOWN NOW and find a strong tree.

    July 22, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  22. ali

    doesnt that include every friend of the current administration?wont happen until they are out of power.executive priveledge.

    July 22, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  23. Mike from Westchester

    TJ Johnson July 22nd, 2008 3:53 pm ET

    The know-nothing, knee-jerk democrats are going to get involved in the Wall Street processes and ruin this country. Hello, depression!
    Thank you Chicken Little. Guess you want to ignore the fact that the Bush Administration's war and other spending and tax cuts to the top 1/2%, along with allowing the foxes to watch the chicken coop, and having pretty much no energy policy, have led us into this mess.

    The lack of proper oversight has led to one financial disaster after another over the past 8 years, from Enron to Worldcom, to dot com, to Halliburton and Blackwater, to mortgage gate, to Katrina response.

    But we know, when the Dems get in the sky is going to fall. Just tell me, how come every one of our last 5 recessions, going back over 40 years have fallen on Republican watch? How come nearly 80% of our entire national debt has been run up by just 4 Republican Presidents? How come most Americans have seen their real wages and share of U.S. wealth decline steadily under Republican Administrations, especially Reagan and Bush 43?

    Your opinion is simply not supported by the facts – it's just typical conservative mythology and nothing more.

    July 22, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  24. ali

    prices of oil have dropped $15 a barrell since obama began his mideast trip.his presence alone ,calmed tensions,because he is a true world visionary.he could probably be voted president of the world right now,without much trouble.wouldnt that be nice?

    July 22, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  25. Mark, Pasadena, CA

    Do the math. Oil producers (OPEC, Venezuela, Russia, etc.) are currently getting about $50-60 per barrel. Transport costs from the middle east to the US are about $10 per barrel. So where is the extra $70-80 per barrel going? A big chunk of it is going in to the pockets of hedge funds, Goldman Sachs, etc., net of trading costs and commissions. The Enron traders who gamed the natural gas market years ago are now up to the same tricks with oil. Congress and President Obama need to put an end to this.

    July 22, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
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