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Experts Split on Gasoline Price-Gouging Bill

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday to charge firms and individuals fines and criminal penalties for so-called gasoline price-gouging. Experts debated the move on “Power Lunch.”

The bill, which the Bush administration has threatened to veto, comes at at time when U.S. gasoline prices are at an all-time inflation-adjusted high of $3.22 per gallon. Convicted firms could face up to $150 million in penalties, and individuals could see $2 million fines and two-year prison terms.

Tyson Slocum, director of the energy program at Public Citizen, sided with the House: “This is the least that Congress can do -- make it illegal for already profitable companies to exploit consumers during a time of national crisis."

However, Marlo Lewis, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said the bill would ultimately detriment the consumer: “In the long run, it will discourage investment in oil production, reducing supply which also will drive up gasoline prices.”

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