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Experts Split on Gasoline Price-Gouging Bill

Wednesday, 23 May 2007 | 3:03 PM ET

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.”

Gas Gouging
Congress votes to criminalize gas gouging, with Marlo Lewis, Competitive Enterprise Institute sr. fellow; Tyson Slocum, Public Citizen director of the energy program and CNBC's Bill Griffeth

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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  • Sue Herera is a founding member of CNBC, helping to launch the network in 1989. She is co-anchor of "Power Lunch."

  • Tyler Mathisen co-anchors CNBC's "Power Lunch." Mathisen also co-anchors "Nightly Business Report produced by CNBC."

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Kenny Polcari