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Specter calls for review of antitrust laws in energy industry

[JURIST] US Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Wednesday called for a re-examination of s after the Committee held a hearing on consolidation in the energy industry [hearing materials]. Specter noted that the Federal Trade Commission [official website] has approved numerous mergers in the industry in the past 15 years and voiced concern that this could be detrimental to consumers. In testimony [prepared remarks, PDF; press release] before the committee, FTC Commissioner William Kovacic said that most sections of the industry remain unconcentrated or moderately concentrated and pointed to the growth of independent companies as increasing competition in many areas of the industry. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal [official website] testified [press release], however, that "lax federal enforcement of anti-trust laws has led to dangerous monopolistic power concentration in a few [oil] companies." The American Petroleum Institute [advocacy website] disagreed, saying that the FTC had "thoroughly analyzed" all oil company mergers before approving them. Earlier this week, Exxon Mobil reported record earnings [press release] for the fourth quarter of 2005. AP has more.

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