President Joe Biden asked Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan to investigate alleged price gouging by U.S. gasoline providers in a letter sent Wednesday.
The president suggested to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan that the regulatory agency should “immediately” initiate a review of the alleged practice of needlessly hiking gasoline prices, according to the letter posted on Twitter by White House spokesperson Vedant Patel. Biden added that the two largest fossil fuel companies in the U.S. — ExxonMobil and Chevron, based on earnings — are on track to see massive revenue growth this year.
“I am writing to call your attention to mounting evidence of anti-consumer behavior by oil and gas companies,” the president wrote to Khan. “The bottom line is this: gasoline prices at the pump remain high, even though oil-and-gas companies’ costs are declining. The Federal Trade Commission has authority to consider whether illegal conduct is costing families at the pump. I believe you should do so immediately.”
“Prices at the pump have continued to rise, even as refined fuel costs go down and industry profits go up,” Biden continued. “Usually, prices at the pump correspond to movements in the price of unfinished gasoline, which is the main ingredient in the gas people buy at the gas station.”
Biden added that while the price of unfinished gasoline has declined, the cost of gasoline at the pump has risen.
The president also noted that he previously asked the FTC to “consider monitoring” the American gasoline market a few months ago. The commission has yet to take action against the fossil fuel industry.
Gasoline prices are currently at their highest in eight years, according to the Energy Information Administration. The average cost of gas hit $3.42 per gallon Wednesday, a more than 60% jump compared to one year ago, a AAA database showed.
But the president and other top administration officials have largely blamed Middle Eastern oil producers for not boosting output as gas prices, which are tied to oil prices, have surged.
Industry groups, though, have blamed Biden’s policies, arguing that he has disincentivized investment in oil and gas and introduced large roadblocks for domestic fossil fuel production. Since taking office in January, the president has pursued an anti-fossil fuel agenda, blocking major pipelines, ditching oil drilling projects and introducing sweeping regulations.
“This is a distraction from the fundamental market shift that is taking place and the ill-advised government decisions that are exacerbating this challenging situation,” Frank Macchiarola, the American Petroleum Institute’s (API) senior vice president of policy, economics and regulatory affairs, said in a statement. “Demand has returned as the economy comes back and is outpacing supply.”
Macchiarola added that Biden has worked to “restrict access to America’s energy supply.”
“Rather than launching investigations on markets that are regulated and closely monitored on a daily basis or pleading with OPEC to increase supply, we should be encouraging the safe and responsible development of American-made oil and natural gas,” Macchiarola continued.
Chevron referred back to the API’s statement on the letter in response to an inquiry from the Daily Caller News Foundation. ExxonMobil didn’t immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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