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    House Passes Bill Targeting OPEC

    Legislation would also create a task force to investigate oil market manipulation and unwarranted speculation.

    WASHINGTON -- The House approved a bill yesterday that would let the Justice Department file energy antitrust and price fixing cases against members of
    the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) oil cartel, The Associated Press reported.

    In addition, the bill, approved 324-84, also would create a special Justice Department taskforce to investigate energy markets manipulation and
    unwarranted speculation, the report stated.

    "The House today with a strong bipartisan and veto-proof margin, voted to hold foreign oil cartels and Big Oil accountable," Speaker Nancy Pelosi said
    in a statement. "It requires that the mergers of Big Oil companies in recent years be examined for anticompetitive effects."

    While previous bills of a similar nature have been passed by Congress, they have not been able to get to the president's desk. The legislation passed yesterday would remove the current prohibition against pursuing antitrust actions against a sovereign country, the AP reported.

    "It's time to stand up to the international oil cartel that openly establishes production limits among member countries to influence prices," Rep. Steve Kagen, (D-Wis.), chief sponsor of the anti-OPEC bill, told the
    AP, adding that OPEC has refused to increase production, although oil prices continue to rise, nearing $130 a barrel as the House came to a vote yesterday, according to the AP.

    However, many Republicans argued that the legislation does not address the country's energy problems, and legal experts stated that the bill's enforcement actions would have little success, the AP reported.

    "This bill was not an answer last year and it's not an answer this year," Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), told the AP.

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