CAPITOL HILL (AP) - The House has passed a bill that would authorize the Justice Department to pursue energy antitrust and price fixing cases against members of the OPEC oil cartel.
Critics say such attempts will likely be fruitless and could prompt a backlash from oil producers.
The bill, approved 324-84 on Tuesday, also would create a special Justice Department task force to investigate energy markets in an attempt to root out manipulation and unwarranted speculation.
Similar measures are part of a package of Democratic energy proposals being considered in the Senate.
The House passed a similar bill targeting OPEC last year and the Senate embraced it, only to see the provision subsequently taken out of the legislation. The bill passed Tuesday would remove a specific prohibition now against pursuing antitrust actions against a sovereign country.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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