The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved a bill aimed at lowering oil and gas prices, and it blamed a decade of mergers in the petroleum industry for today’s rocketing energy prices. Similar legislation last year was voted out of committee and passed the Senate on a voice vote, but it never made it to conference committee on the 2005 energy bill.

The proposed legislation would require the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice to assess a need for special merger language for the petroleum industry, prevent companies from holding fuel off the market in an effort to raise prices, allow the agencies to sue OPEC as an illegal international cartel and create a joint federal/state task force to look at information sharing in the industry that may have affected pricing strategies.

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