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Nelson pushes for more regulation to lower gas prices
By MORRIS NEWS SERVICE
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson says the key to keeping gas prices from climbing is tightening regulations on oil speculation.
The price of gasoline averaged $3.09 a gallon on Friday in Jacksonville, and prices have increased by about 50 cents in the past six months.
Oil prices are affected not only by supply and demand, but also by oil price futures, which are traded on the stock market. The value of oil price futures fluctuates depending on what investors think the price of oil will be in the future. When traders think oil prices will increase, they bid higher, and that causes oil prices to increase.
The number of people investing in oil has also increased since the housing market collapsed. Nelson and others have complained that commodities traders drive up the price of oil even when supply increases and demand falls.
Nelson, the only Democrat left in a statewide office, is pushing for more regulation on oil speculation. He argues that gas prices would decrease if the government made it harder to buy and sell a large quantity of oil price futures over a short period of time.
"This is going to be an important issue because people are getting upset again about the price of gas," said Nelson. "The price shouldn't be this high, and I'm trying to do something about it."
In 2008 Nelson sponsored legislation to ban unregulated speculative trading of oil futures and other energy commodities. He blamed gas prices, which were over $4 a gallon at the time, on the practice.
"Clearly, unregulated speculators have bid up oil prices to unbelievable and unacceptable highs," Nelson said in 2008.
That legislation did not pass, but Nelson is now asking the Commodities Future Trading Commission to impose regulations similar to what he proposed in 2008.