Cantwell: “We have proof now .... that there is manipulation in oil markets.”

May 27, 2022

Remarks come after major oil trading company fined record $1.186B for manipulating oil markets; Cantwell’s proposed legislation, now pending before the Senate, aims to prevent similar manipulation in fuel markets that could be contributing to record-high gas prices in Washington and across the country

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Chair of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, took to the Senate floor today to call for immediate action to pass the Transportation Fuel Market Transparency Act, which would greatly enhance federal oversight of petroleum markets that drive the prices consumers face at the pump.

“I know my colleagues on the other side of the aisle would like to pretend that this issue doesn't exist,” Cantwell said. “I ask them, go home and face your constituents and tell them you voted to do nothing, nothing to bring more transparency into the gas markets that are affecting them today, and see what their reaction is.”

On Wednesday, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CTFC) announced that the oil trading firm Glencore will pay $1.186 billion resulting from charges that their traders manipulated oil markets from 2008-2017. Glencore has pled guilty to the charges, including an effort by traders to manipulate a fuel-oil benchmark price.

In Washington state, the retail price of gas is often determined by a similar benchmark price.

“Let's find the answers,” Cantwell said. “Let's do something as basic as passing a law about transparency, on a product, petroleum, that is so critical to our economy.”

Senator Cantwell has a long record of exposing energy market manipulation and legislating durable solutions. She was instrumental in giving the CTFC authority to monitor oil markets, authority which was used to root out Glencore’s trading schemes. The Transportation Fuel Market Transparency Act would greatly enhance the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ability to monitor and police physical fuel markets. Yesterday, the Senate Commerce Committee voted to advance Cantwell’s bill, and Senate Majority Leader Schumer has publicly committed to a Senate floor vote on the measure.

“My colleagues, Senator Wyden, Senator Feinstein, and I have prosecuted these issues,” Cantwell said. “We have asked for more information transparency. In both instances when we were successful with electricity and natural gas, we did find behavior that needed to be rooted out and here we have proof now in this Glencore case that there is manipulation in oil markets.”

A full transcript of Senator Cantwell’s remarks is available HERE. High-quality video of her remarks is available HERE. High-quality audio of her remarks is available HERE. A summary of the Transportation Fuel Market Transparency Act is available HERE.