US President Joe Biden on Wednesday criticized price gouging practices by the oil industry, as gas prices soar across the country.
What did Biden say?
“Refinery profit margins well above normal being passed directly onto American families are not acceptable,” Biden said in a open letter to executives at major oil companies such as Shell, Marathon Petroleum Corp. and Exxonmobil.
The president also claimed the US economy is in a “time of war” amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Gas prices have now spiked above $5 (€4.81) per gallon (3.79 liters) in some parts of the country. Due to US infrastructure, most of its population is heavily dependent on cars as the most practical way to get around.
“I am prepared to use all tools at my disposal, as appropriate, to address barriers to providing Americans affordable, secure energy supply,” Biden said in the letter, while not elaborating on what potential measures he could take.
He urged the companies “to work with my administration to bring forward concrete, near-term solutions to address this crisis.”
How did the oil industry react?
The American Petroleum Institute (API), which represents the oil industry, shot back at the letter and said Biden’s energy policy deserves the blame for soaring gas prices.
“While we appreciate the opportunity to open increased dialogue with the White House, the president’s misguided policy agenda shifting away from domestic oil and natural gas has compounded inflationary pressures and added headwinds to companies’ daily efforts to meet growing energy needs while reducing emissions,” API CEO Mike Sommers said in a statement.
Skyrocketing gas prices, along with inflation of consumer goods, could result in Republicans taking control of both chambers of Congress in critical midterm elections this fall.
Republicans in Congress also ridiculed the letter. Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas described the message from the president as “embarrassing impotence.”
Next month, Biden will embark on a trip to Saudi Arabia in an attempt to increase global oil supply.