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May 4, 2006

Pryce Votes to Protect
Consumers
at the Gas Pump

Measure Imposes Criminal and Civil Penalties for Price Gouging

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Deborah Pryce (R-Upper Arlington) voted in support of the Federal Energy Price Protection Act of 2006 (HR 5253), legislation that if enacted into law would create the first federal criminal penalties for price gouging for gasoline and other energy commodities. Pursuant to the bill’s passage in the House, Congresswoman Pryce released the following statement:

“Americans must have confidence that energy prices are not being surreptitiously manipulated and that retailers or wholesalers are not engaging in anti-competitive practices,” said Pryce. “Today’s vote will ensure that consumers are getting a fair deal at the pump, and are not being victimized by price gouging or collusion.”

“Like any commodity, gas prices are subject to market forces and the laws of supply and demand. This bill, however, ensures that they are not subject to profiteering and manipulation by unscrupulous retailers or wholesalers.”

“Today’s vote is but the first in a series of common-sense remedies to aid American consumers who feel they are getting hosed at the pump. Spiking gas prices act as a tax on our economy and American families, and stifle economic growth and job creation. We will continue to find solutions to protect American families and jobs from the emasculating impact of energy costs.”

The Federal Energy Price Protection Act prohibits price gouging in the market for gasoline, diesel fuel, crude oil, home heating oil and bio fuels. The bill will provide for strong civil enforcement by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the states’ attorneys general, in conjunction with criminal enforcement by the U.S. Attorney General and the Justice Department.

Highlights of HR 5253:

  • The bill provides for civil penalties for price gouging.
    • For “wholesale sale” violations, the penalties are 3 times the ill-gotten gains of the seller, plus an amount not to exceed $3,000,000, per day of a continuing violation.
    • For “retail sale” violations, the penalties are simply 3 times the ill-gotten gains of the seller.
  • Any civil penalty imposed under the Act shall be deposited into any account or fund (established under the laws of the State) used for paying compensation to consumers for violation of State consumer protection laws. If no such State law exists, the penalty shall be deposited into the general fund of the State treasury.
  • Furthermore, the Act provides for criminal penalties.
    • “Whole sale” violations will be punishable by a fine of no more than $150,000,000, imprisonment for not more than 2 years, OR both.
    • “Retail sale” violations will be punishable by a fine of no more than $2,000,000, imprisonment for not more than 2 years, OR both.
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