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Senior Democrat reintroduces anti-OPEC bill

WASHINGTON - A senior Democratic senator reintroduced legislation on Monday that would allow the U.S. Justice Department to bring legal action against OPEC and others it believes collude to push up the price of oil.

Sen. Herb Kohl's office said in a statement that the bill would allow the Justice Department to prosecute OPEC members in the same way that it goes after others who act to fix prices' which is illegal under U.S. antitrust law.

Last year' the bill passed the House of Representatives as stand-alone legislation and the Senate as part of a broad energy bill aimed at controlling gas prices but was stripped out of the measure and did not become law.

"Our legislation will hold OPEC-member nations to account under U.S. antitrust law when they agree to limit supply or fix price in violation of the most basic principles of free competition'" said Kohl' a Wisconsin Democrat' referring to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Oil settled down nearly 8 percent on Monday' dragged below $38 by the growing impact of the economic recession on global energy consumption. Before the global recession hit' crude peaked at above $147 a barrel in July