Gensler was barely given a chance to catch his breath before the causes of rising gasoline prices were broached. A few days prior to the hearing, California Rep. Dennis Cardoza said he’d spent nearly $70 for a fill-up back home. “They’re talking about the potential for (prices to reach) $4 per gallon. They’ve exceeded $4 in California. … We know from the Energy Information Administration that the supply of oil and gas is higher today than it was three years ago when (gas prices) were at a low of $2 per gallon.

“We know it’s a worldwide market, of course. But right now the demand for oil in the United States is the lowest since 1997…

“Do you agree that something more basic than supply and demand is driving these prices?”

Gensler: “Today’s markets are made up of hedgers and speculators…”

“Aha!” exclaimed Cardoza.

“At any given both are a part of the market,” Gensler continued. “I’ve mentioned earlier that the futures market, over 80 percent of the market, is swap dealers, hedge funds, managed money.”

“So speculation is having some impact,” said Cardoza. “You just can’t quantify it.”

Gensler replied that on “any given day, financial actors – you’ve referred to them as ‘speculators’ – are part of the pricing of energy and agricultural products. Our role is to ensure that market is free of manipulation, that it’s transparent and it reflects supply and demand.”

Cardoza said “the fact is that … the CFTC, with other authorities, (is addressing) the extensive energy speculation. Care to comment on what specific efforts you’re taking under the new Dodd-Frank rule?”

Gensler: “Just that it’s the broad rule, it’s anti-manipulation authority, it’s transparency authorities. Once the data is in, it’s position limit authority.”