Biden demands FTC probe on gas price spike

Biden demands FTC probe on gas price spike

President Biden asked the Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday to look into whether ​oil and gas companies are engaging in “illegal conduct” to maintain high prices at the pump.

In a frustrated letter to FTC Chair ​Lina Khan, the president suggested that there is “mounting evidence of anti-consumer behavior by oil-and-gas companies.”

“The bottom line is this: gasoline prices at the pump remain high, even though oil and gas companies’ costs are declining,” Biden wrote. “The Federal Trade Commission has authority to consider whether illegal conduct is costing families at the pump. I believe you should do so immediately.”

Biden made the request days before millions of Americans are expected to hit the road for the Thanksgiving holiday. According to AAA, the nationwide average price for a gallon of regular gasoline stood at $3.41 Wednesday, up 10 cents from last month and up $1.29 from the same date a year ago.

“Usually, 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,” Biden wrote. “But in the last month, the price of unfinished gasoline is down more than 5 percent while gas prices at the pump are up 3 percent in the same period.”

Joe Biden.
President Biden asked the FTC to look into whether ​oil and gas companies are engaging in “illegal conduct” to keep gas prices high.
John Tully/Getty Images

“​Meanwhile, the largest oil-and-gas companies in America are generating significant profits off higher energy prices​,” the president added.

Biden concluded the letter by imploring Khan to “bring all the Commission’s tools to bear if you uncover any wrongdoing.”

The American Petroleum Institute, the oil and gas industry’s main lobbying group, called Biden’s request a “distraction from the fundamental market shift that is taking place and the ill-advised government decisions that are exacerbating this challenging situation.”

Gas prices.
According to AAA, the nationwide average price for a gallon of regular gasoline stood at $3.41 Wednesday.
David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

“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,” ​added Frank Macchiarola, API’s senior vice president of policy, economics and regulatory affairs.

Along with soaring gas prices, the Biden administration is struggling to contain inflation, which hit a three-decade high last month, as businesses are hobbled by a supply chain bottleneck and a nationwide labor shortage.​

Biden has previously asked OPEC to ramp up production to help lower the prices of gas, but the cartel turned him down.

During a CNN town hall last month, the president acknowledged that “I don’t have a near-term answer” for the problem before predicting a “dramatic drop … in terms of gas prices as we go into the next two or three years.”

Earlier this month, a group of Democratic senators sent the president a letter asking him to tap into the country’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve to alleviate the sky-high prices. 

The administration also has taken heat for considering shutting down the L5 pipeline that runs between Canada and Michigan because of environmental concerns.

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