President Obama to unveil proposal to rein in manipulation of oil markets
April 17th, 2012
10:37 AM ET

President Obama to unveil proposal to rein in manipulation of oil markets

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Under pressure to bring down the high price of gas, today President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder will outline a proposal to increase federal supervision of the oil markets in an effort to clip the wings of speculators who are profiting off the volatility of the oil market.

The Presidents $52 million plan would let regulators force energy traders to put more of their own money into trades and also boost the penalties on manipulators who are found to be speculating unlawfully, according to a senior administration source who would not comment on the record in advance of the president's remarks.

The President will call on Congress to:

– Boost spending on technology to improve better oversight and surveillance of energy markets.

– Increase by six times the money spent on surveillance and enforcement staff of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to better deter oil market manipulation.

– Increase from $1 million to $10 million civil and criminal penalties against firms that engage in market manipulation.

– In an effort designed to limit energy market disruptions, give the Commodity Futures Trading Commission authority to increase the amount of money that a trader must put up to back a trading position.

The Obama administration plans to increase access to the commission's data so the White House Council of Economic Advisers can examine and analyze trading information, which the administration can do on its own.

This effort is likely to be seen as a political move designed to draw contrasts with the Republican party and especially presumptive nominee Mitt Romney on energy issues. House Republicans are unlikely to pass a measure that seeks to impose more limits on Wall Street at a time when they are seeking to limit regulations on the finance industry. At the same time Republican leaders are calling on the White House to open up more domestic land for oil and gas exploration.

The White House is pinpointing Wall Street for the high price of gas which could afford the President an opening to criticize Romney and his ties to the world of high finance.