* Lawmakers want CFTC to act with high energy prices
* CFTC going to act "as soon as we humanly can" - Gensler
By Christopher Doering
WASHINGTON, June 15 The head of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission said the agency will not introduce its long-awaited position limits plan anytime soon as the futures regulator hears renewed calls from lawmakers pushing it to act over high energy prices.
The Dodd-Frank law gives the CFTC the power to set limits on the positions investors can take to curb excessive speculation "as appropriate" in energy, metals and agricultural markets. The CFTC proposed its plan in January, and since then has received an estimated 12,000 public comments on the measure.
U.S. lawmakers have turned up the heat on the CFTC to impose position limits as U.S. oil prices CLc1 hover near $100 a barrel and consumers pay nearly $4 a gallon for gasoline.
"I'm concerned that we haven't been moving ahead, at least in the energy markets," Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat, said at a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing. "The recent run-up had a significant impact on our economic recovery," she said.
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Despite the pressure, CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler told lawmakers on Wednesday it would be some time before the agency moves to finalize its position limits plan.
"Nothing would please me more than to be able to calendar that in the next week or two but that's not going to happen," Gensler told reporters after testifying, adding the agency wanted to carefully review the public comments.
"We're going to try to move this as soon as we humanly can," Gensler earlier told lawmakers.
The process could be a challenging one. Some of the agency's own commissioners are skeptical the limits would prevent a run-up in prices, and experts and traders have long said the rules risk making markets more volatile by reducing liquidity.
The CFTC has said it will miss the July 16 deadline for implementing dozens of rules contained in last year's Dodd-Frank legislation, which gave it oversight of the $600 trillion global over-the-counter derivatives market. It proposed on Tuesday a plan that would delay some swap rules that had been set to go into effect on July 16 to ease growing anxiety among traders and fend off possible legal challenges.
Gensler this week laid out a rough roadmap of the agency's rule-making schedule set to begin on July 7. The CFTC, which will spend the remainder of the year finalizing rules, plans to hold votes on anti-manipulation regulations, large trader reporting, agricultural commodity definition and clearing measures in July and early August.
President Barack Obama has blamed speculators for driving gasoline prices higher, saying there was enough oil in world markets to meet demand. The administration created a working group of federal agencies to probe potential fraud in the energy markets.
(Editing by Lisa Shumaker)