House Democrats Call Out Oil Price Fixing Conspiracy Exposed by FTC, Press for Criminal Charges

May 15, 2024 Press Release

Washington, D.C. — At a House Appropriations Committee hearing today on the Federal Trade Commission’s FY 2025 budget, a series of Democratic lawmakers drew attention to a massive oil price fixing conspiracy recently exposed by the agency. Economic Liberties recently released a talking points memo with takeaways from the scandal and explaining how blatant corporate collusion drove up prices across the economy.

“You uncovered disturbing evidence of a Big Oil executive colluding with OPEC to inflate oil prices, leading to pain at the gas pump at and at the airport for millions of American families—all for the sake of higher profits,” said Representative Rosa DeLauro (CT-3). “This right here is exactly what we mean when we talk about corporate greed driving inflation. Big Energy companies would rather collude with a cartel of, often authoritarian, states than let the free market truly determine the price at the pump … It’s shameless profiteering at every opportunity that shows why we must do everything we can to support the FTC.”

“You blew the lid off an amazing scandal of a Texas oil executive who was caught attempting to collude and conspiring to collude with other Texas oil companies, other American oil companies, and officials at OPEC,” said Representative Matt Cartwright (PA-8). “He wanted to prop up oil prices by reducing output, reducing output by American oil producers, reducing output by international oil producers. In your complaint, you quoted this executive from Texas. He said ‘if Texas leads the way, maybe we can get OPEC to cut production. Maybe Saudi and Russia will follow—that is our plan.’ You quoted him.”

“If it was 40 to 60 cents a gallon we’re paying more for this collusion, for the average person filling their tank that’s $8 or $10 a week and $500 a year of added costs. Times that by half of the people in my district who have a car, that’s $175 million a year just to people in my district. Times 434 districts, that’s $7.6 billion that we’re being gouged because of someone like this who’s trying to price collude with foreign companies on oil,” said Representative Mark Pocan (WI-2). “All I can say is that if $30 million is the increase [to the FTC’s budget] to have qualified staff just in one area to save taxpayers $7.6 billion, I think that’s a pretty good investment.”

In possibly one of the most outrageous cases of greedflation on record, the FTC recently confirmed a massive price-fixing conspiracy driving high gas prices. Economic Liberties’ Director of Research, Matt Stoller, who broke the story, found that it cost Americans $500-$1000 per year and caused 15-30% of all inflation increases in 2021. The scheme was orchestrated by, among others, the CEO of Pioneer Natural Resources, Scott Sheffield, who collaborated with OPEC officials to drive up prices.

“If you commit theft, the average sentence in the United States is 23 months. $7.6 billion is more than grand larceny theft. What else can we do to these oil companies that are ripping us off?,” Rep. Pocan added, alluding to the need for criminal charges against this price fixing. “I would recommend ‘orange is the new black.’ If we need to make a point, it would be helpful because we’re feeling it at the pump and clearly this kind of behavior we know isn’t isolated.”

Read Economic Liberties latest’ fact sheet on the scandal here

Learn more about Economic Liberties here.


The American Economic Liberties Project works to ensure America’s system of commerce is structured to advance, rather than undermine, economic liberty, fair commerce, and a secure, inclusive democracy. Economic Liberties believes true economic liberty means entrepreneurs and businesses large and small succeed on the merits of their ideas and hard work; commerce empowers consumers, workers, farmers, and engineers instead of subjecting them to discrimination and abuse from financiers and monopolists; foreign trade arrangements support domestic security and democracy; and wealth is broadly distributed to support equitable political power.