Kansas and other states can continue to enforce antitrust laws in order to prevent retail price fixing in the natural gas market after a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said on Tuesday.
The high court ruled in a 7-2 decision against the federal government's argument that federal law would preempt state enforcement.
“This is a major victory for Kansas consumers and all purchasers of natural gas,” Schmidt said. “The Supreme Court has sided with our view that those who illegally fix the price of natural gas cannot hide behind federal law to avoid state liability.”
The lawsuit originated in Kansas with Learjet, Inc. and Topeka Unified School District No. 501, among others, claiming natural gas retailers were driving up prices and costing gas consumers millions of dollars. Other cases from around the country were consolidated in Nevada, and the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals based in San Francisco allowed the plaintiffs to continue with its state-law claims.
The federal government backed the defendants in the case and argued before the Supreme Court that federal laws would come before state laws. Schmidt joined 21 other state attorneys general in November in filing a brief with the high court arguing states should still be allowed to enforce the laws.