(WPRI) — The House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday that looks to lower gas prices by cracking down on alleged price gouging by energy companies.
It’s called the Consumer Price Gouging Protection Act and it gives the federal government power to stop energy companies from raising prices “excessively.” It would also expand the Federal Trade Commission’s power to investigate and address possible price gouging by oil and gas companies.
The bill was passed largely along party lines with a vote of 217-207. It got no Republican support and even four Democrats voted against it.
Both sides want to help constituents with the pain at the pump but have different approaches on how to do it.
Republicans argued that there’s no proof energy companies are price gouging, and one opposing Democrat said the bill doesn’t address what’s causing inflation right now.
Congressman David Cicilline, a co-sponsor of the bill, said Americans working to recover shouldn’t have to feel squeezed by corporate profiteering.
“If these prices were solely based on inflation or supply chain issues, these companies wouldn’t be seeing the record profits they’ve seen in recent months,” he explained. “The real issues are greed, manipulation, and market concentration.”
Experts say the fuel crisis dates back to before the Ukraine-Russia war and that a lack of investment during pandemic lockdowns meant companies couldn’t meet demand, even today.
As of Friday morning, the national average price of gas per gallon is $4.59, according to AAA. The average gas price per gallon is up to $4.72 in Rhode Island and $4.73 in Massachusetts.
According to AAA, Rhode Island ranks #15 for the most expensive gas in the country and Massachusetts is slightly higher at #13.