Biden calls on FTC to probe anti-consumer behavior by energy companies as gas prices soar

Finance news

US President Joe Biden speaks during an event to commemorate Veterans Day at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetary in Arlington, Virginia on November 11, 2021.

Nicholas Kamm | AFP | Getty Images

President Joe Biden is asking the Federal Trade Commission to look into behavior from energy companies as prices at the pump hover around a seven-year high.

In a letter to Chair Lina Khan Wednesday, Biden said there’s “mounting evidence of anti-consumer behavior by oil and gas companies.” The letter noted that prices at the pump have remained high despite a decline in the price of unfinished gasoline. “This unexplained large gap between the price of unfished gasoline and the average price at the pump is well above the pre-pandemic average,” the letter said.

The letter added that the “two largest oil and gas companies in the United States” — which are Exxon and Chevron based on market capitalization — are on track to almost double their net income compared with 2019 levels, while the two companies have also announced stock buybacks and dividend hikes.

Biden’s latest request comes as the administration tries to quell the surge in gas prices and its contribution to inflation across the economy. In August the administration called on OPEC and its oil-producing allies to boost output and also asked the FTC to investigate price-gouging at the pump.

The administration has repeatedly said that it’s examining the tools at its disposal to alleviate some of the burden on consumers, which could include tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

The national average for a gallon of gas stood at $3.41 on Wednesday, according to data from AAA. That’s up from $3.31 one month ago, and $2.12 one year ago.