Today, the House of Representatives passed a bill requiring the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to use all of its authority, including emergency powers, to take steps to curb excessive speculation in the energy futures markets. The bill, H.R. 6377, the Energy Markets Emergency Act, passed the House overwhelmingly by a bipartisan vote of 402 to 19.

"A growing number of people believe a flood of speculative money into energy futures is driving the record prices in crude oil," said House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson of Minnesota during floor debate on the bill. "CFTC must take immediate steps to ensure that index and hedge fund money is not the cause for price manipulation and should take any necessary action to curb excessive speculation in the markets.  These steps will help restore consumer confidence and reassure the American taxpayer that the futures markets are functioning properly."

H.R. 6377 directs CFTC to use its full authority immediately to curb the role of excessive speculation in the energy and swaps futures markets, and take other corrective actions to eliminate market-related disturbance that prevents energy markets from accurately reflecting supply and demand forces. 

Created in 1974, CFTC is the chief futures and option markets regulator in the United States.  Congressional oversight of CFTC is under the jurisdiction of the House Agriculture Committee, which Peterson chairs. The 2008 Farm Bill, enacted into law earlier this month over the President's veto, reauthorizes CFTC through 2013.

In July, the House Agriculture Committee will examine legislative proposals that would affect CFTC's authority over energy futures and swaps markets.  Several bills affecting regulation of the energy futures and swaps markets have been introduced and referred to the ag committee.

"The committee will thoroughly and carefully examine legislative proposals that would affect regulation of these markets," Peterson said. "Our review will be comprehensive and public so that we may work toward a consensus, bipartisan bill that will strengthen CFTC's ability to identify fraud and manipulation in the markets."

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Source: U.S. House Committee on Agriculture