Joe Biden is calling on seven of the top oil companies to do something to help quell surging gas prices after accusing them of intentionally exacerbating the strain on Americans’ pocketbooks after the average price per gallon surpassed $5.00.
The president is sending letters Wednesday to Marathon Petroleum Corp., Valero Energy Corp., ExxonMobil, Phillips 66, Chevron, BP, and Shell to demand action on lowering gas prices at the corporate level and account for the surge.
In a letter to Exxon obtained by Axios, Biden wrote that the difference ‘of more than 15% at the pump is the result of the historically high profit margins for refining oil into gasoline, diesel and other refined products.’
‘Since the beginning of the year, refiners’ margins for refining gasoline and diesel have tripled, and are currently at their highest levels ever recorded,’ he added in the letter to Exxon Mobil CEO Darren Woods.
Biden is also threatening to use his ’emergency power’ if oil companies do not take action to lower prices for a gallon of gas.
‘Government tools and emergency authorities to increase refinery capacity and output in the near term, and to ensure that every region of this country is appropriately supplied,’ he wrote. ‘Already, I have invoked emergency powers to execute the largest Strategic Petroleum Reserve release in history, expand access to E15 (gasoline with 15% ethanol), and authorize the use of the Defense Production Act to provide reliable inputs into energy production.’
‘I am prepared to use all tools at my disposal, as appropriate, to address barriers to providing Americans affordable, secure energy supply,’ he added.
The price per gallon of regular gas hit a national average of $5.00 on Saturday for the first time ever, according to AAA. As of Wednesday morning the average price sits at $5.01, after hitting a new high of $5.02 on Tuesday.
Gas is most expensive in California, where some areas are nearing $7.00 per gallon, while they remain the lowest in Georgia at $4.50 for a regular gallon of gas.
President Joe Biden sent a letter to seven of the biggest oil companies demanding action to quell surging gas prices – including an emergency meeting and explanation for whether there has been a loss in oil refining capacity by these companies
The price per gallon of gas reached a national average of $5.00 on Saturday for the first time ever – and has remained around $5.01 and $5.02 per gallon through the week so far. Some states, like Georgia, New York and Maryland, have implemented gas tax holidays to help ease pocketbooks at the pump
Biden demanded that oil refiners explain the ‘disconnect’ between the price they pay for oil and the price they are charging Americans at the pump.
‘Since the beginning of this year, gasoline prices have increased by more than $1.70 per gallon,’ the president lamented.
‘Vladimir Putin’s war of aggression, and the bipartisan and global effort to counter it, has disrupted the global supply of oil and driven up the global price,’ he continued. ‘But the sharp rise in gasoline prices is not driven only by rising oil prices, but by an unprecedented disconnect between the price of oil and the price of gas.’
Biden laid out in his letter: ‘The last time the price of crude oil was about $120 per barrel, in March, the price of gas at the pump was $4.25 per gallon. Today, gas prices are 75 cents higher, and diesel prices are 90 cents higher.’
The administration has blamed oil price surges on Russia’s continued invasion of Ukraine, which started in late February, and on greedy Big Oil companies.
The letter Wednesday urges heads of the seven oil companies to participate in an ’emergency meeting’ with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm through the National Petroleum Council to further discuss options to lower costs. He also accused them of not increasing production in order to keep prices higher.
Biden’s letter demands information on whether there has been a loss in oil refining capacity by these companies, which would explain a portion of the price increases.
In the speech Friday, Biden also blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion on Ukraine for the gas price surge, which the administration has dubbed ‘Putin’s price hike.’
The administration continues to blame rising gas costs on the ‘Putin price hike’ resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and on greedy oil companies purposefully not increasing production to meet the demand so they can charge more per gallon
Biden has taken specific aim at ExxonMobil, saying in a Friday speech in the Port of Los Angeles: ‘Exxon made more money than God last year.’ Pictured: An Exxon gas station sign in Oakland, California shows the price per regular gallon of gas at $6.95
‘Your companies need to work with my Administration to bring forward concrete, near-term solutions that address the crisis and respect the critical equities of energy workers and fence-line communities,’ Biden insisted in his Wednesday letter. ‘I have directed the Secretary of Energy to convene an emergency meeting on this topic and engage the National Petroleum Council in the coming days.’
‘In advance of that, I request that you provide the Secretary with an explanation of any reduction in your refining capacity since 2020 and any concrete ideas that would address the immediate inventory, price, and refining capacity issues in the coming months – including transportation measures to get refined product to market.’
A handful of states, like New York, Maryland and Georgia, have already implemented a suspension on gas tax – and the administration has started more seriously looking at a federal gas tax holiday.
Such a move would require congressional action, but a direct call from the president on giving tax breaks to Americans struggling to afford a tank of gas would almost assuredly spark movement.
Some suggest that Biden merely calling on the other states to impose their own gas tax holidays would be an effective move from the White House to help ease pressure on Americans’ pocketbooks.
Biden has already tapped the Strategic Petroleum Reserves, which had a negligible effect on gas prices.
Surging gas prices are contributing to a four decade high inflation as economic issues take center stage in the 2022 midterms and Democrats’ political outlook for November is looking increasingly grim.
During a speech on inflation in the Port of Los Angeles on Friday, Biden said: ‘We’re going to make sure everyone knows Exxon’s profits. Exxon made more money than God last year.’
He accused oil companies of purposefully not increasing production to meet the demand so they can charge more per gallon.
‘They’re not drilling,’ he said, ‘they’re buying back their own stocks and making no new investments. Exxon, start investing, start paying your taxes.’
The president’s attack came just over 24 hours after ExxonMobil stocks had its first record closing in eight years with shares at more than $100 for the first time since 2014.
Even the administration admits that they can’t do much to change gas prices.
Biden’s Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo admitted last week that the administration can’t do anything to help: ‘Unfortunately, that is the brutal reality,’ she told CNN when asked what the president can do.
‘This is, in large part, caused by Putin’s aggression,’ Raimondo added. ‘You know, since Putin moved troops to the border of Ukraine, gas prices have gone up over $1.40 a gallon, and the President is asking for Congress and others for potential ideas.’
‘But as you say, the reality is that there isn’t very much more to be done,’ she said.