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Biden Suspects Oil Companies Are Illegally Jacking Up Prices At The Pump

November 17, 2021 by Dan McCue
Biden Suspects Oil Companies Are Illegally Jacking Up Prices At The Pump
(Dirk Shadd/Tampa Bay Times/TNS)

WASHINGTON — President Biden asked the Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday to investigate if oil companies are illegally driving up gas prices.

In a letter to FTC Chair Lina Khan, the president says there is “mounting evidence of anti-consumer behavior by oil and gas companies” noting that gasoline prices at the pump remain high, despite the fact the costs associated with gasoline production are declining.

Biden previously asked Brian Deese, the director of the National Economic Council, to reach out to the FTC and ask it to monitor the U.S. gasoline market and address any illegal conduct uncovered.

Since then, the FTC has increased its scrutiny over mergers in the oil and gas sector, events the White House says result in less consumer choice and potentially higher prices. 

In outlining his concerns, Biden said typically “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. 

“But in the last month, the price of unfinished gasoline is down more than 5% while gas prices at the pump are up 3% in that same period,” he wrote. “This unexplained large gap between the price of unfinished gasoline and the average price at the pump is well above the pre-pandemic average. 

“Meanwhile, the largest oil and gas companies in America are generating significant profits off higher energy prices. The two largest oil and gas companies in the United States, as measured by market capitalization, are on track to nearly double their net income over 2019-the last full year before the pandemic,” Biden continued.

“I do not accept hard-working Americans paying more for gas because of anti-competitive or otherwise potentially illegal conduct,” he said.

In a statement provided to The Well News, Frank Macchiarola, senior vice president of policy, economics and regulatory affairs at the American Petroleum Institute said the president’s request “is a distraction from the fundamental market shift that is taking place and the ill-advised government decisions that are exacerbating this challenging situation.

“Demand has returned as the economy comes back and is outpacing supply,” Macchiarola continued. “Further impacting the imbalance is the continued decision from the administration to restrict access to America’s energy supply and cancel important infrastructure projects. 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.”

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