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Friday, January 29, 2010

CRS Issue Statement on Oil and Natural Gas Markets

Carl E. Behrens, Coordinator
Specialist in Energy Policy

The sudden plunge of crude oil and gasoline prices in the second half of 2008 eased the urgency of legislative efforts to deal with high prices. In the 111th Congress, the energy focus shifted toward alternative energy sources and related policies regarding global climate change, but a number of oil and gas issues and questions remained to be resolved. Primary among them was the issue of increasing domestic production of conventional oil and gas resources, particularly the long-standing moratorium on oil and gas leasing on much of the Outer Continental Shelf, which the 110th Congress allowed to expire. 

Another issue of legislative interest was the role of unregulated speculation in oil markets and the consequential affect on gasoline prices. During the dramatic run-up of crude oil prices in the first half of 2008 many Members complained that there was little government oversight and practically no effective regulation of the commodities market that could detect or prevent excesses. This sentiment continues to stimulate legislative proposals, even though the speculative bubble has burst.

Date of Report: January 19, 2010
Number of Pages: 3
Order Number: IS40357
Price: $7.95

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