Obama Fights Gas Prices By 'Reconstituting' Oil Speculation Task Force

By:  Dan Froomkin

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama announced Tuesday that he has asked Attorney General Eric Holder to "reconstitute" a task force examining oil and gas speculation.

But the task force, which Obama initially proposed last April when a big spike in gas prices sparked public outrage, has met only four or five times, mostly around the time it was created, and has not reported to the public on its activities, McClatchy News Service reported. Critics say the group has fallen short of its mission thus far.

Precisely what Obama has asked the group to focus on at this time remains somewhat unclear. Justice Department spokeswoman Adora Andy explained in an email to The Huffington Post, "At the President's direction, the Attorney General -- through the Oil and Gas Price Fraud Working Group -- is aggressively focused on identifying civil or criminal violations in the oil and gasoline markets, and ensuring that American consumers are not harmed by unlawful conduct, which remains an important priority. With the recent increase of gasoline prices, the working group is monitoring the situation and if we find any evidence of criminal behavior or other misconduct we will respond immediately."

The topic of gas prices came up at Obama's press conference on Tuesday after a Fox News reporter asked if the president was on purpose driving up gas prices to wean Americans off fossil fuels. "Just from a political perspective, do you think the president of the United States going into reelection wants gas prices to go up higher?" he asked, with a laugh. "Is there anybody here who thinks that makes a lot of sense?"

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