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Baldwin Calls on DOJ to Prevent Big Oil from Price Fixing and Lower Costs for Families and Businesses

Call follows Baldwin-backed investigation that uncovered evidence of collusion to reduce oil and gas output, boost profits, and drive up prices at the pump

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and a group of her colleagues called on Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to use every tool at its disposal to prevent and prosecute collusion and price fixing in the oil industry. The call follows a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation into the Exxon-Pioneer merger – called for by Senator Baldwin - that uncovered evidence of price fixing involving American oil executives and OPEC officials that have 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% decrease in the U.S. oil production growth rate,” wrote the Senators. “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 the 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 Senators concluded.

Read the full letter text here.