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Federal Trade Commission chairwoman Deborah Platt Majoras last week said Congress will likely pass a law aimed at stopping alleged price-gouging in the gasoline industry, even though the agency has found no evidence that such a law is necessary to protect consumers. Speaking at the American Bar Association’s fall forum on antitrust law in Washington, Majoras attributed the high price of gasoline to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ behavior in setting the price of crude oil and to escalating demand for gasoline in the United States, even in the face of rising prices. The FTC has warned lawmakers privately and publicly about the dangers of passing price-gouging legislation, but the measure nonetheless has bipartisan support, she said. Meanwhile, Assistant Attorney General Thomas Barnett, head of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, also in attendance at the Nov. 16 conference, said OPEC, like all cartels, harms consumers. “The difficult question is what we can do about it,” he said, noting that any efforts to subject OPEC to U.S. jurisdiction would be complicated by national security and foreign policy concerns.
Alexia Garamfalvi can be contacted at [email protected].

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