Seeking to lower record-breaking gas prices across the country, the House of Representatives passed a bill earlier this month that would grant executive authority towards freezing gas prices, investigating price gouges, and making it illegal for oil companies to withhold supplies for profit.
The vote for the Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act ended with 217 in support and 207 opposed, with no Republican representatives from Michigan, or any other state, supporting the bill. Skirting close to party lines during the House vote, the bill will need a bipartisan breakthrough in order to pass the Senate.
The Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act curbs rising gas prices, especially at a moment when oil and gas companies are reaping in profits at an all-time-high. If enacted, the act would effectively give executive control over how much oil and gas companies can raise prices in an emergency situation, such as during war sanctions or the pandemic, for at least 30 days.
The bill would also expand the Federal Trade Commission’s authority towards investigating potentially exploitative practices at oil and gas companies, such as price gouging and manufacturing shortages.
Leading up to the Memorial Day weekend, Michigan’s gas prices sit at an average of $4.57, with some stations in the state beginning to charge $5 per gallon or higher.
According to a watchdog group, the top 21 gas and oil companies in the country took in $41 billion in profits during the first quarter of 2022. Meanwhile, the national average for gas sits at $4.45 per gallon, seeing a nearly $1 increase since Russian sanctions were implemented.
Despite having majority Democratic support, the bill has been subject to debate, especially in its effectiveness for stopping exploitative practices, given the lack of a legal definition for price gouging.
Gas prices in Michigan rose by 64 cents over the past month, markedly higher than the national average, which saw an increase of 47 cents over the same period.