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Tell the CFTC: Cut gas prices by reining in oil speculators now

This petition had 585 supporters

High gas prices affect all of us, especially the poor. Gas prices affect the cost of everything from food to airline tickets, and the current spike threatens our economic recovery, and could cost as many as 600,000 jobs.

But you know who's not feeling the pain of high gas prices? Wall Street oil speculators -- who are placing huge bets on the price of oil going up, creating a speculative price bubble that we are already seeing at the gas pump.

An agency you've likely never heard of, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), has the power to rein in oil speculation, but has failed to take action. That is totally unacceptable.

Tell the CFTC: Cut gas prices by reining in excessive oil speculation now.

Oil speculators buy oil on a commodities exchange (with no intention of ever using it,) and then sell their oil when the price changes. In recent weeks, hedge funds and other Wall Street investors have rushed to turn a profit on Middle Eastern countries' moves toward democracy. As oil speculation has hit an all time high,2 it appears to have created a speculative bubble causing oil prices to rise further and faster than is justified by actual global supply and user demand.

There is at least a partial solution that already exists. Last year's Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law expanded the power of the CFTC to limit the size of speculative oil bets. But incredibly, the five-member commission has been prevented from implementing these rules by its two Republican commissioners and one conservative Democrat, who are working to protect Wall Street's profiteering despite the urgings of the CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler.

Last week, Senate Democrats called on the CFTC to take up their responsibility and help reduce speculative gas price spikes. But Congressional Republicans are doing just the opposite.

Even as they loudly rant and rave about oil prices, the House Republican's continuing budget resolution slashed the CFTC budget by nearly a third, hanging a giant axe over the agency that could make the most immediate difference in gas prices. 

As long as the CFTC has the power to ease gas prices by reining in oil speculation, we must let the commissioners know that they have our attention, and that their inaction is an astonishing breach of their duties. 

To be clear, stopping excessive oil speculation is only a short term measure to control gas prices and reduce damage to our economy.

It doesn't do anything to end our nation's reliance on fossil fuels or fight climate change. To do that, we need to start by reducing oil demand with increased fuel efficiency and investments in public transit, and advance longer term measures to promote electric vehicles and clean, renewable energy to power them.

Limiting excessive oil speculation won't end speculation all together, and there are arguments that it shouldn't. But for the moment, this is one politically achievable goal, that can reduce the costs of gas, stabilize our economy, and limit Wall Street's ability to generate profits on our misfortune and victimhood at the hands of decades of failed energy policy.

Tell the CFTC: Cut gas prices by reining in excessive oil speculation now.

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