President Barack Obama called on Congress Tuesday to devote millions in new funding to increase oversight of US energy markets and strengthen other protections against market manipulation.
During an address from the White House Rose Garden, Obama proposed "new steps to strengthen oversight of energy markets," saying an "irresponsible few" speculators have the power to hurt millions of Americans.
"We can't afford a situation where some speculators can reap millions while millions of American families get the short end of the stick," he said.
While Obama continued to argue that global trends are behind the recent increase in gas prices, he added that "we still need to work extra hard to protect consumers from factors that should not affect the price of a barrel of oil."
"First, Congress should provide immediate funding to put more cops on the beat to monitor activity in energy markets," Obama said.
According to MarketWatch, the White House is calling on Congress to give another $52 million to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to oversee and police energy market activity.
Obama also called on Congress to increase civil and criminal penalties against manipulation.
MarketWatch reported the White House also is pressing for fines to be increased to up to $10 million from $1 million, and for them to be assessed on a per-day rather than per-violation matter.
Obama said he will also ask Congress to give the CFTC new powers to raise margin requirements in oil futures markets, saying the new rules would "make sure [traders] have the money to make good on their trades"
"None of these steps by themselves will bring gas prices down overnight," Obama said, although he added they will help protect against market manipulation that can exacerbate the problem.
Obama also defended his "all of the above" approach to addressing higher gas prices, which has been criticized by Republicans calling for more domestic oil drilling. He argued that the US would still need to rely on foreign oil suppliers "even if we drilled every square inch of this country right now."