Chris Lange, FISM News
President Biden wants the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to launch a probe into whether oil companies are illegally increasing profits as he faces mounting pressure to provide relief to Americans fed up with rising costs at the pump.
In a Nov. 17 letter to FTC Chair Lina Khan, Biden suggests that U.S. oil companies are engaging in price gouging, pointing to an “unexplained large gap” between the cost of unfinished gasoline and consumer prices.
“The bottom line is this: gasoline prices at the pump remain high, even though oil and gas companies’ costs are declining,” he writes.
The letter marks the latest attempt by the president to hit back at widespread criticism that his administration is not doing enough to mitigate the nation’s soaring inflation costs, evidenced not only at the pump but in nearly every other facet of consumer spending, from food and diapers to housing and heating costs.
Biden urged the FTC to take immediate action to investigate the alleged “anti-consumer” behavior, adding that “[t]he Federal Trade Commission has authority to consider whether illegal conduct is costing families at the pump.”
While the letter did not include any specific examples of price gouging, the president says that American oil and gas companies are “generating significant profits off [of] higher energy prices,” and that two of the country’s major oil and gas producers are projected to nearly double their net income from last year.
“I do not accept hard-working Americans paying more for gas because of anti-competitive or otherwise potentially illegal conduct,” he said. “I therefore ask that the Commission further examine what is happening with oil and gas markets, and that you bring all of the Commission’s tools to bear if you uncover any wrongdoing.”
An FTC spokesperson said they “are looking into” the accusations.
Frank Macchiarola, senior vice president of policy, economics and regulatory affairs at the American Petroleum Institute, hit back at the president, saying he is making false accusations of illicit activity in an effort to divert attention away from his failed policies, according to reporting by The Hill:
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. 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.”