From The Office of Congressman Charles Bass


Wilson -Bass Bill Imposes Strict Federal Penalties for Anti-Consumer Behavior

Washington, D.C. - Congressman Charles Bass (R-NH02) today hailed the passage of H.R. 5253, the Federal Energy Price Protection Act, which he drafted with Representative Heather Wilson(R-NM), to enact the first-ever federal penalties and prohibitions against gasoline, diesel fuel, crude oil, home heating oil, and biofuels price gouging.

"Americans consumers should have confidence in the nation's energy markets and the ability of the government to respond if there are failures or if price gouging is occurring," said Bass. "This legislation was carefully crafted to provide collaborative federal and state enforcement for any violations that do occur."

This legislation would provide for strong enforcement by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the states' attorneys general in civil cases, and by the U.S. Attorney Generaland Department of Justice in criminal cases. Penalties would include:

For civil wholesale sale violations, the penalties wouldbe three times the ill-gotten gains, plus an amount not to exceed $3 million per day of a continuing violation.

For civil retail sale violations, the penalties would be three times the ill-gotten gains of the seller.

 Criminal wholesale violations would be punishable by a fine of up to $150 million, imprisonment for up to two years, or both.

 Criminal retail sale violations would be punishable by a fine of no more than $2 million imprisonment for up to two years, or both.

Moreover, any civil penalties imposed for violations in a state would be turned over to the victim compensation fund, consumer protection fund, or general treasury of that state.

Representative Bass is a key member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and has been committed to supporting the development of renewable and alternative energy sources, protecting consumers from extreme price variations, and protecting the environment in balance with our need for development.

"The deterrence presented by such tough enforcement and the potential penalties should make anyone think twice before engaging in this behavior," concluded Bass.

The legislation passed by a strong bipartisan vote of 389 to 34.