Nevada's Cortez Masto proposes investigation into oil companies, potential price gouging

Nevada’s Cortez Masto proposes investigation into oil companies, potential price gouging

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Gas prices average nearly $6 per gallon of regular last summer

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Nevada Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto reintroduced a bill Wednesday to investigate if large oil companies took advantage of consumers as gasoline prices skyrocketed last year.

Cortez Masto first proposed The Fair and Transparent Gas Prices Act during the last Congress. If the bill were to become law, the government would give the Federal Trade Commission specific tools to look into possible price gouging.

“I can tell you just what the evidence tells me and the facts so far is that Big Oil has made record profits in the last couple of years,” Cortez Masto said Wednesday. “We also, and I also, know from that hearing from Energy and Natural Resources, when I was questioning Big Oil, that they are sitting on over 9,000 permits that they didn’t even drill to put more supply in our supply chain to help lower those costs. Those are the facts.”

The act would require the FTC, along with state attorneys general, to investigate “transparency to the oil and gas markets, address concerns over price gouging, and recommend action to prevent behavior that harms consumers—including companies buying back stocks from their shareholders instead of using their record profits to responsibly increase oil and gas supply in the U.S,” a statement from Cortez Masto’s office said.

It would require Republican support in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House, where Republicans control the agenda.

New Mexico Sen. Ben Ray Lujan is also a sponsor of the bill.

Last year, Nevada Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen sponsored a bill, which Cortez Masto joined, to suspend the federal gas tax.

The bill, called the Gas Prices Relief Act, proposed suspending the 18.4-cent tax until Jan. 1, 2023. It also proposed requiring the Secretary of the Treasury to monitor the actions of oil and gas companies and take appropriate enforcement actions to ensure consumers see savings at the pump.

Suspending the federal gas tax would have no impact on Nevadans as a state law automatically raises the state tax to offset any drop in the federal one.

On Monday, Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo proposed suspending the state gas tax for one year. Doing so would require Democratic approval in the state legislature.

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