In a speech before the Natural Gas Roundtable last week, Timothy Massad, Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, indicated that finishing work on a position limits rule is a priority of the agency. Although the CFTC initially proposed that applications for exemptions to its prescribed limits — other than for certain specifically enumerated exemptions — be handled exclusively by CFTC staff, Mr. Massad indicated that “[w]e are taking a closer look at this issue.” Specifically, he suggested that the CFTC is considering whether exchanges can be empowered to grant non-enumerated exemptions subject to a review process by the CFTC. In addition, during his speech, Mr. Massad questioned the fairness of a European Commission proposal to require government oversight of benchmark regulators, and to effectively prohibit European banks and asset managers from trading products in foreign jurisdictions tied to benchmarks, unless the EC determines that the jurisdiction oversees benchmarks in an equivalent fashion. Since the United States does not ordinarily regulate administrators of benchmarks, implementation of such a proposal would effectively ban European banks and asset managers from trading US products based on benchmarks, including products based on the S&P 500 and “the many benchmarks in the energy markets put out by third parties such as Platts or Argus.” Mr. Massad said he has urged European regulators to consider that there may be alternative oversight that achieves equivalent results. In the US, for example, “our law gives us the power to review new proposed contracts and determine whether they may be susceptible to fraud and manipulation, and we can engage in surveillance and enforcement on an ongoing basis to identify and deter manipulation,” said Mr. Massad.