Biden Asks FTC to Investigate Whether 'Illegal Conduct' Is Leading to Higher Gas Prices


President Joe Biden is asking the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to examine whether “illegal conduct” by oil and gas companies is driving up gas prices.

In a letter to FTC Chair Lina Khan, on Wednesday, Biden said, “I am writing to call your attention to 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.”

“The Federal Trade Commission has authority to consider whether illegal conduct is costing families at the pump. I believe you should so immediately,” he wrote.

Biden continued:

“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. But in the last month, the price of unfinished gas is down more than 5 percent while gas prices at the pump are up 3 percent in the same period. This unexplained large gap between the price of unfinished gasoline and the average price of at the pump is well above the pre-pandemic average.”

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Read the letter below:

He went on to note that the “largest oil and gas companies” in the country are “generating significant profits off higher energy prices.” Specifically, the president said the two largest oil and gas companies are “on track to nearly double their net income over 2019.”

Finally, Biden said, “I do not accept hard-working Americans paying more for gas because of anti-competitive or otherwise potentially illegal conduct. I therefore ask the Commission to 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.”

The letter comes as AAA reports that the average price for a gallon of gas nationally is $3.41, up from $2.12 a year ago.

On Nov. 10, Biden addressed supply chain issues and higher gas prices as he said, “Did you ever think you’d be paying this much for a gallon of gas? In some parts of California, they’re paying $4.50 a gallon. That’s why it’s so important we do everything in our power to stabilize the supply chain.”

Patrick De Haa, the head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, told The Dispatch, “If COVID wouldn’t have happened, we would not be at $3.42 a gallon today.”

“For the simple reason that oil companies would not have had to let go workers and shut down oil production,” he added.

On Friday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki signaled that the administration had concerns that price gouging was leading to higher prices and said the administration would ask the FTC to investigate the matter.

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And earlier this month, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told CNN that the president is looking into “all of the tools that he has” to help bring down energy prices.

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