Is ‘illegal conduct’ the reason for rising gas prices? Biden urges regulators to find out

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden on Wednesday called on union leaders to investigate whether oil and gas companies were involved in “illegal conduct” by profiting from rising fuel prices during the violence.

Biden, who faces growing political pressure as inflation rises to 31 years, called for an investigation in a letter to Federal Trade Commission chairman Lina Khan, saying “there is a lot of evidence of consumer misconduct by oil and gas companies.”

“The bottom line is this: fuel prices at the pump remain high, even though the cost of oil and gas companies is down,” Biden said in the letter. “The Federal Trade Commission has the authority to ensure that illegal conduct consumes families at the tap. I believe you should do so immediately.”

Extra: Inflation rises to 31 years high. What it means to overcharge in your pocket, Joe Biden’s problems

The average national price of a gallon of regular fuel is $ 3.41. That’s $ 1.29 more than last year, according to the American Automobile Association, and a seven-year high. Although the national average dropped a penny last week, gas prices in California broke a new record on Tuesday with a price tag of between $ 4,687 per gallon.

Petrol prices rose sharply during the epidemic during rising oil prices, which were filtered into petrol. Prices for crude oil for the U.S. bench. almost doubled in the last 12 months and traded for $ 79 per barrel Wednesday morning.

But Biden noted that oil prices fell by more than 5% over the latest high price of $ 84 per barrel last month, while gas prices rose by 3% over the same period. He said pump prices often respond to changes in crude fuel prices.

“This huge unexplained gap between the price of crude oil and the average pump price is above the pre-epidemic rate,” Biden said, adding that large oil and gas companies were making “huge profits from high energy prices.” ”

If the gap between pumping prices and the cost of refined oil were in normal pre-epidemic levels, Americans would pay 25 cents per gallon of gas, according to the White House.

Biden said the two largest oil and gas companies – ExxonMobil and Chevron – were on track to almost double their revenue by 2019, the full year before the epidemic. He said both companies had announced plans to “engage with billions of dollars to buy stocks and shares over the next year or so.”

“I do not accept hard-working Americans to pay more for gas because of non-competitiveness or other potential offenses,” Biden said in the letter. “I therefore request the commission to re-examine what is happening with the oil and gas markets, and to carry all the tools of the commission if you discover any wrongdoing.”

Representatives of ExxonMobil and Chevron did not respond to requests for comment.

But an organization involved in the industry, the American Petroleum Institute, has condemned Biden’s action.

Frank Macchiarola, senior vice president of policy, economic and regulatory affairs, called Biden’s pressure of investigation a “hindrance” to the ongoing market changes. He said poor government decisions were exacerbated by the crisis.

Macchiarola said higher fuel prices were due to an increase in demand for fuel as the economy recovers from the epidemic. “Also contributing to the inequality,” he added, are measures from Biden management to limit access to fossil fuels.

“Instead of initiating an investigation into regulated and monitored markets on a daily basis or urging OPEC to increase supply,” he said, “we should promote the safe and responsible development of American oil and natural gas.”

Biden has seen his approval decline in recent months as inflation has risen, just as other economic factors, such as the stock market and job numbers, have improved. It is a big warning to Democrats ahead of next year’s mid-term elections.

The Federal Trade Commission has the power to enforce consumer protection laws that regulate “wrong or deceptive practices or practices” and to open investigations to obtain data on how companies set gas prices. Biden officials have slightly increased pressure on the organization. In August, Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, called on the FTC to “monitor” the potential illegal activities of oil and gas companies.

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