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Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks Calling On The Justice Department To Investigate Big Oil Price Fixing And Collusion Raising Americans’ Gas Prices

Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor on his letter released last week calling on the Department of Justice to investigate the oil industry after the Federal Trade Commission uncovered potential evidence of price fixing and collusion that could raise the price at the pump. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

We just finished celebrating the Memorial Day holiday. On one hand, it is a solemn holiday – a remembrance for all who died to protect our country.

On the other hand, of course, Memorial Day weekend is an unofficial start to summer: schools go out on break, friends and families get together, and millions of Americans go on road trips.

So it’s not hard to feel the frustration – the sheer exasperation – felt by millions when America’s biggest oil companies rake in record profits but still raise prices at the pump. It is deeply, deeply unfair – and now we have reason to believe that in some cases it may be unlawful.

Last week, I joined with my Democratic colleagues calling on the Department of Justice to investigate the oil industry after the Federal Trade Commission uncovered evidence of price fixing and of collusion. According to the FTC, Pioneer Natural Resources – one of the most important producers in the country – may have colluded unlawfully with the foreign nations of OPEC to limit production and artificially boost prices during the early days of the pandemic.

Much of the evidence in the FTC’s complaint is redacted, but even what’s public is very, very troubling. According to the FTC, Pioneer’s former CEO worked extensively with OPEC as early as 2020 to limit production, assuring them that American companies who normally competed against each other were “working to keep output artificially low.”

Pioneer’s former CEO reportedly told his competitors that they need to “stay in line” and that “if anybody goes back to growth, [shareholders] will punish those companies.” A month ago, he went as far as saying that “Even if oil gets to $200 a barrel, the independent producers are going to be disciplined.”

This strong-arming seemed to have worked, unfortunately. Today, growth in U.S. oil output is down 50% since the pandemic, but the average household is paying $500 more a year per car because of possible collusion. Five hundred dollars more a year, per car, for gasoline, because of possible collusion.

This is what frustrates Americans so much about big oil: even when they’re making money hand over fist they’ll keep raising prices on us, they will keep squeezing us for everything we’ve got. And now they may—may--have crossed the line into unlawful behavior.

So the DOJ needs to step in, and determine if any laws against collusion or price fixing have been broken. At minimum the American people deserve to know if big oil executives are conspiring with each other or with OPEC behind our backs to illegally raise prices at the pump.