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Tipsheet

Biden Rails Against Oil Companies in Letter to Executives. Republicans Tell Him to 'Look in the Mirror.'

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

President Biden on Wednesday sent a letter to oil executives blasting them for profiteering off high prices and threatening to use “emergency powers” if they don’t increase output.

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"At a time of war, refinery profit margins well above normal being passed directly onto American families are not acceptable,” Biden wrote in a letter to executives at Marathon Petroleum Corp, Valero Energy Corp, Exxon Mobil, Phillips 66, Chevron Corp, BP, and Shell.

“There is no question that Vladimir Putin is principally responsible for the intense financial pain the American people and their families are bearing. But amid a war that has raised gasoline prices more than $1.70 per gallon, historically high refinery profit margins are worsening that pain."

The president argued in the letter that the companies had failed to restore refining capacity that they reduced earlier in the pandemic, leaving it at its lowest level in more than half a decade. At the same time, it said, there is “an unprecedented disconnect between the price of oil and the price of gas,” noting that the last time the price of crude hit $120 a barrel, in March, the price of gas at the pump was $4.25. But today, gas prices are 75 cents higher.

“That difference — of more than 15 percent at the pump — is the result of the historically high profit margins for refining oil into gasoline, diesel and other refined products,” Mr. Biden said. “Since the beginning of the year, refiners’ margins for refining gasoline and diesel have tripled, and are currently at their highest levels ever recorded.” (NYT)

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For the first time, the average price for a gallon of gas in the U.S. surpassed $5, according to AAA. With his approval ratings steadily declining, the letter marks yet another attempt to shift blame for the pain Americans are feeling at the pump.

"Your companies and others have an opportunity to take immediate actions to increase the supply of gasoline, diesel and other refined product you are producing," Biden continued. "My administration is prepared to use all reasonable and appropriate Federal Government tools and emergency authorities to increase refinery capacity and output in the near term, and to ensure that every region of this country is appropriately supplied."

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