Biden Asks FTC If Energy Companies' 'Illegal Conduct' Is Causing Higher Gas Prices

U.S. President Joe Biden has called on Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Lina Khan to investigate whether gasoline prices are being kept at artificially high levels by the nation’s oil-and-gas companies.

What Happened: The U.S. Energy Information Administration has determined gasoline prices are more 60% higher on a year-over-year measurement and have reached their highest level since 2014, when Biden was the vice president in the Obama administration.

The Wall Street Journal reported Biden sent a letter to Khan claiming there was “mounting evidence of anti-consumer behavior by oil-and-gas companies,” adding that prices have been rising despite declines in the price of unfinished gasoline. Biden questioned if “illegal conduct is costing families at the pump” and called on the FTC to begin a probe, although he did not cite specific examples of dishonesty behavior or single out individual companies.

“This unexplained large gap between the price of unfinished gasoline and the average price at the pump is well above the pre-pandemic average,” Biden wrote. “Meanwhile, the largest oil-and-gas companies in America are generating significant profits off higher energy prices.”

Related Link: What You Need To Know About Joe Biden And 'Let's Go Brandon'

What Happens Next: The spike in gas prices has become a domestic policy sore spot for the Biden administration, which has been criticized on multiple fronts: environmentalists complained about the president’s effort to cajole OPEC to pump more oil, conservatives have argued Biden has unwisely dismantled the Trump administration’s efforts to encourage domestic oil and gas self-sufficiency, and several of Biden’s senior advisers have tried in vain to convince the president to release oil from the national Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Khan responded the FTC would examine if unlawful business practices within the oil and gas markets. The American Petroleum Institute, the industry’s major trade organization, dismissed Biden’s concerns as a “distraction from the fundamental market shift that is taking place."

“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,” said Frank Macchiarola, the group’s senior vice president of policy, economics and regulatory affairs.

Photo: jlhervàs / Flickr Creative Commons.


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