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U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Joins Colleagues in Call for Action to Stop Price Spikes Caused by Wall Street Oil Speculators

Washington D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin has joined her colleagues in support of legislation that gives federal regulators emergency power to stop Wall Street speculators from taking advantage of turmoil in Iraq to drive up oil prices and make hard-working Americans pay more for gasoline.

The legislation, introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), would force the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the federal agency that regulates oil markets, to use all of its authority, including its emergency powers, to eliminate excessive oil speculation.

“Hard-working people in Wisconsin cannot afford to have Wall Street speculators driving up oil and gas prices,” said Senator Baldwin. “This legislation will help address a Wall Street game that is rigged against middle class families who are struggling to get ahead.”

Wall Street has pushed up the price of crude oil by more than five percent since June 12, when militants attacked and took control of several Iraqi cities. In the longer term, oil prices rose 53 percent since 2009.

While developments in Iraq have had no impact on the supply of gasoline in the United States today, gas is more expensive now than it has been in six years at the beginning of the summer driving season, according to AAA.  The increase has occurred despite the fact that the supply of gasoline is 4.3 percent higher and demand is one percent lower than it was five years ago, when national gas prices averaged $2.69 a gallon.

Nationwide, the average price of a gallon of gas yesterday was $3.70-a-gallon, according to the Energy Information Administration, a buck more than five years ago. In Wisconsin, the average price of gasoline today is $3.73 a gallon, according to That’s only seven-cents-a-gallon more than a month ago but 20-cents more than one year ago and more than a dollar increase in five years.

There is mounting evidence linking excessive speculation on oil to the high pump prices for gasoline. Exxon Mobil, Goldman Sachs, the International Monetary Fund, the St. Louis Federal Reserve, the American Trucking Association, Delta Airlines, the Petroleum Marketers Association of America, the New England Fuel Institute, the Consumer Federation of America and others have blamed excessive oil speculation for significant increases in oil and gas prices. Goldman Sachs, perhaps the largest speculator on Wall Street, has acknowledged that excessive oil speculation costs Americans at least 56 cents a gallon at the pump.

In addition to Senator Baldwin, the legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii).

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) has introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives.