Canton Repository

May 10, 2001

Ney supports bill that would punish OPEC 

Copley Washington correspondent 

WASHINGTON — Rep. Bob Ney, R-St. Clairsville, has signed on to a bill that would punish oil-producing countries for limiting production, which contributes to higher gasoline prices.

“Many are predicting gas prices will soar to over $3 a gallon this summer,” said Ney, who became a co-sponsor of the bill Tuesday.

He said the legislation will “put pressure on OPEC (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) to increase oil production.”

U.S. gasoline prices reached an all-time unadjusted high over the last two weeks, averaging $1.76 Friday.

The bill, introduced May 2 by Rep. Jim Saxton, R-N.J., aims to stop the International Monetary Fund from making low-interest loans to countries that are members of OPEC and act to restrict oil production.

It would direct Treasury Secretary Paul H. O’Neill to instruct the executive director of the IMF from the United States, one of 24 such directors, to oppose new loans to those countries. The United States is the largest contributor to the IMF.

OPEC cut oil production by 1 million gallons a day March 16. Officials said the move was designed to prop up oil prices. Earlier this week, Vice President Dick Cheney blamed lack of refinery capacity in the United States, rather than OPEC, for high gas prices.

“I think the odds of it passing are probably slim,” congressional expert Norman J. Ornstein said of Saxton’s bill. That could change “if we moved into a full-blown crisis, such as we had in the ‘70s, where you actually couldn’t get gasoline, there were long lines, total disruptions,” he added.

Even if the bill doesn’t pass, Ornstein said it acts as a “signal to these countries that this is a two-way street.”