A bill sponsored by Senator Chuck Grassley would lay the groundwork for anti-trust lawsuits against members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
“OPEC and partner countries like Russia being the biggest, they blatantly collude to control the oil supply,” Grassley said, “and that of course boosts prices, even in the United States.”
The bill would revoke the immunity countries in OPEC have had from lawsuits in the United States. The U.S. Attorney General could then sue Saudi Arabia and the other 12 countries that are OPEC members in federal court, “to hold OPEC accountable for its anticompetitive behavior that artificially inflates oil prices,” Grassley said.
The bill is co-sponsored by a Republican senator from Utah and Democratic senators from Vermont and Minnesota and cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday.
Federal anti-trust laws give courts authority to determine when American businesses have acted illegally, but it’s unclear how a U.S. court would be able to enforce a guilty verdict against a foreign country. Reuters is reporting that the American Petroleum Institute opposes the bill — warning it could have unintended consequences and is unlikely to have much impact on OPEC operations.