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Exclusive: New oil antitrust letter

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Mar 27, 2024
Illustration of an oil rig under a spotlight

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

Senate Republicans are about to ask the Federal Trade Commission to "follow the law" on recent oil and gas mergers.

Why it matters: The antitrust regulator is facing pressure from the left to clamp down on oil and gas industry consolidation.

Driving the news: Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and 37 GOP senators plan to send a letter to FTC Chair Lina Khan arguing against Senate Democrats' request for oil and gas antitrust action.

  • Led by Sen. Ted Cruz, the letter rebuts specific arguments Democrats have made about how mergers could affect competition in the oil and gas sector, according to a copy shared with Axios.
  • "Our Democratic colleagues may be entitled to their own opinions, but a fair and unbiased review of these mergers must be based upon actual facts."

Zoom in: The letter also argues that ceding to Democrats' wishes would be equivalent to "anti-fossil fuel policy preferences" that Congress "has not authorized the Federal Trade Commission to regulate."

  • This point matters because if the FTC did wade into the waters of oil mergers, it could get kicked around a federal court system already weighing SCOTUS' new "major questions" doctrine.
  • That's the originalist legal notion that agencies should not be acting beyond the texts of specific statutes.

Flashback: The FTC under President Trump wound up opposing a giant coal industry deal during the last year of his presidency.

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