Taking a page from California\u2019s 2000-01 energy crisis, a U.S. Senate subcommittee grilled fuel trading experts as to whether gas and oil exchanges were driving up prices on the national market along the lines of how traders took advantage of California\u2019s deregulated wholesale electricity market earlier this decade. The U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources energy subcommittee was essentially told that speculation does not have that much to do with current fossil fuel prices. Witnesses asserted that most of the run up is based on supply and demand. \u201cNo one has described to me any plausible explanation for the doubling in the price of oil, other than speculation,\u201d said committee chair Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM). He added that regulators, like the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, is \u201cWillfully blind in some areas.\u201d The price of oil skyrocketed this year and the cost of natural gas, which fuels most of California\u2019s power plants, usually tracks oil prices. The subcommittee was called to investigate whether the price of fuels is due to trading excesses. A panel of experts evenly divided between financial industry representatives, consultants, and regulators, faced a rather hostile panel of senators. Defending traders, Jeffrey Harris, Commodity Futures Trading Commission chief economist, said that a new report on energy trading showed traders have not violated current law. \u201cSimply supply and demand,\u201d added Lawrence Eagles, JP Morgan Chase director of commodity research. He told senators that there\u2019s been \u201ca very sharp escalation in the cost of production\u201d of fossil fuels because there were \u201cunderinvestments\u201d in the 1990s. During California\u2019s energy crisis, traders gamed the system, according to state officials. However, they were not violating then-state deregulation laws. Financiers and regulators called for a hands-off approach to the markets for fossil fuels. Senators appeared skeptical. \u201cYou can\u2019t have a self-regulated market when billions of dollars are at stake,\u201d said Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI).