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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

Indianapolis mass shooting suspect legally bought 2 guns, police say

Marion County Forensic Services vehicles are parked at the site of a mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Friday. Photo: Jeff Dean/AFP via Getty Images

The suspected gunman in this week's mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis legally purchased two assault rifles believed to have been used in the attack, police said late Saturday.

Of note: The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department's statement that Brandon Scott Hole, 19, bought the rifles last July and September comes a day after the FBI said in a statement to news outlets that a "shotgun was seized" from the suspect in March 2020 after his mother raised concerns about his mental health.

U.S. and China agree to take joint climate action

US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry waves as he arrives at the Elysee Presidential Palace on March 10, 2021 in Paris. Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

Despite an increasingly tense relationship, the U.S. and China agreed Saturday to work together to tackle global climate change, including by "raising ambition" for emissions cuts during the 2020s — a key goal of the Biden administration.

Why it matters: The joint communique released Saturday evening commits the world's two largest emitters of greenhouse gases to work together to keep the most ambitious temperature target contained in the Paris Climate Agreement viable by potentially taking additional emissions cuts prior to 2030.

Biden defends not immediately raising refugee cap

President Biden speaking with reporters after leaving his cart following his first round of golf as president at Wilmington Country Club in Wilmington, Delaware, on Saturday. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden on Saturday sought to explain why he didn't immediately lift the Trump administration's historically low refugee cap.

Driving the news: Several Democrats accused Biden Friday of not fulfilling his pledge to raise the limit after it was announced he'd keep the cap. The White House said later it would be raised by May 15. Biden told reporters Saturday, "We're going to increase the number."