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Cortez Masto Leads Bicameral Legislation to Protect Consumers and Prevent Energy Market Manipulation

Today, U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) introduced bicameral legislation to provide the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) with additional authority to protect consumers from the harm caused by traders that repeatedly manipulate electricity and natural gas markets. The Energy Consumer Protection Act is being introduced in the House of Representatives by Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.-09), Don Beyer (D-Va.-08), and Sean Casten (D-Ill.-06).

“We need an all-of-the-above strategy to make sure that energy prices are affordable for Nevadans,” said Senator Cortez Masto, “and that includes my legislation to create new tools to prevent bad actors from manipulating energy markets and hiking up prices for consumers and businesses alike. I’m going to continue working to bring down costs for businesses and families in the Silver State.”  

“This legislation will add a key consumer protection arrow to FERC’s quiver by blocking market manipulators from repeating their crimes and harming energy consumers,” said Senator Cantwell. “The burden of today’s elevated energy prices makes the quick passage of this bill more important than ever.”

“As historic heat waves sweep the nation, American families face blackouts and rising energy prices. The blame for this rests squarely at the feet of energy companies who for years have manipulated markets and deceived regulators. It is time to protect consumers and reign in these companies to ensure this never happens again,” said Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. “The Energy Consumer Protection Act of 2022 will protect consumers by giving the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission additional authority to penalize companies and individuals that engage in energy market manipulation or who provide false information to the Commission. I’m proud to introduce this legislation with Senator Cortez Masto to end the fraudulent practices in energy markets that are harming consumers.”

“At a time when American families are struggling with energy costs, we can’t afford market manipulators that make those concerns worse,” said Rep. Beyer. “Our bill, the Energy Consumer Protection Act, would provide FERC with the ability to address those concerns. I want to thank my colleague Rep. Schakowsky for her leadership on this issue.”

“In the midst of heatwaves fueled by the climate crisis, we need to do everything we can to cut energy costs,” said Rep. Sean Casten. “Providing FERC with the authority to protect consumers and prevent manipulation of the energy market will bring down costs for families across the country and help deliver cheaper, more reliable energy.”

Current law bans market manipulation and false or misleading representations, but FERC’s current enforcement mechanisms aren’t sufficient in deterring traders from violating the law. This legislation would give FERC additional tools to enforce existing law. The Energy Consumer Protection Act would allow FERC to temporarily or permanently ban companies from trading in energy markets if they 1) violate the Federal Power Act or Natural Gas Act by manipulating the electricity or natural gas markets or 2) file false information regarding those markets.

Senator Cortez Masto is working in a comprehensive way to ease cost burdens for Nevadans. She is leading legislation to provide the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) with the resources it needs to investigate unfair practices and price gouging by big oil and gas companies. She’s called out these same oil and gas companies for using their record profits to reward shareholders instead of lowering prices for consumers. She’s pushed critical legislation to alleviate supply chain bottlenecks, introduced a bill to cap the price of insulin, called on the IRS to help lower costs for Nevadans who use their cars for business and medical purposes, and called on the Biden administration to develop both a short- and a long-term, government-wide strategy to lower gas prices. She has also asked the administration to utilize and assess LIHEAP funds in order to help Americans struggling with the high costs of heating and cooling their homes.