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Rep. Steve Chabot (R–Ohio), sponsor of the House NOPEC bill. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

The No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act (NOPEC) — previously introduced during both the Bush and Obama administrations — remains relatively under the radar, but could rattle global oil markets.

The big picture: The bill aims to weaken the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) by removing sovereign immunity from states that cooperate to influence oil production, thereby allowing for antitrust action. If enacted and enforced, it could trigger oil price fluctuations, market instability and new risks to U.S. foreign relations.

The impact: Although the Trump administration wants to curb OPEC’s power, the organization's presence in recent years has brought price and trade stability to one of the world’s most valuable and strategic commodities.

  • Targeting OPEC with U.S. legal action could cause OPEC and non–OPEC oil-producing states (such as Russia and Azerbaijan) to retaliate. With OPEC accounting for over 40% of world oil output and with G-20 powers as key international oil consumers, the U.S. could face backlash from other consumer allies in Europe and Asia if NOPEC is seen as destabilizing oil markets and commodities prices.
  • Price volatility could be especially detrimental to U.S. oil producers, now the number one source of global oil supply and a driving force behind American economic growth.

Where it stands: OPEC has announced that it won’t meet in April and will observe how market reacts to U.S. sanctions on Iran and the crisis in Venezuela. This implies OPEC might consider increasing oil output to maintain price stability.

  • If NOPEC were to become law during that period, any cooperation with the U.S. to maintain stable oil prices would be unlikely and could limit collaboration in the foreign policy realm as well.

What to watch: The U.S. could influence OPEC by increasing oil and natural gas exports, as noted by Brookings Institution researchers, who argue that market solutions are available to stabilize prices.

The bottom line: NOPEC threatens to undermine economic growth, undercut U.S. commitments to international law and alienate trade partners. Increasing American oil infrastructure and exploration capacity would offer a sounder path toward energy dominance.

Richard D. Kauzlarich is a former U.S. ambassador and the co-director of the Center for Energy Science and Policy at George Mason University.

Go deeper

Congress hunts for shortcut to pass defense funding, debt limit combo

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer returned to his office Monday. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The scramble in Congress to pass the National Defense Authorization Act is being complicated by an effort to tie it to a needed hike in the federal debt limit.

Why it matters: The House and Senate are rapidly coming up against a series of deadlines they must address before the end of the year — or risk disrupting crucial military funding and upending the economy. Congressional leaders are now hoping they can knock out both "must-pass" priorities in one, complex swoop.

Scoop: Inside Jake Sullivan's call with U.S. hostages' families

Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

National security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke last week with relatives of U.S. hostages and others wrongfully detained abroad, after more than two dozen families expressed frustrations about their inability to get a meeting with him or President Biden, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Participants on the video call, which began at 7pm ET Friday and lasted more than an hour, told Axios they didn't get satisfactory answers to many of their questions. Nonetheless, they were encouraged by Sullivan's commitment to follow up and pledge to be personally available to them and others going forward.

2 hours ago - World

Biden huddles with European allies on Ukraine ahead of Putin call

Putin in the Kremlin. Photo: Grigory Sysoyev/Sputnik via Getty

President Biden will seek to convince Russia's Vladimir Putin in a phone call Tuesday that the price of invading Ukraine would be steeper than anything he's faced in the past.

Driving the news: Biden held a call on Ukraine this evening with the leaders of France, Germany, Italy and the U.K., while Secretary of State Tony Blinken called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to offer America's "unwavering support."