In a move that is just about the only thing he can really do, President Biden sent a letter to the nation’s largest oil refineries in hopes the companies will boost supplies and lower prices, according to NPR.
We’ve reported extensively on the rising price of gas in the country, and now that the national average is above $5 per gallon, the President is doing all he can really do: sending a strongly worded letter.
In that letter, Biden says refiners are taking advantage of the current crisis — seeing record-high profit margins at the same time inflation has soared.
“At a time of war, refinery profit margins well above normal being passed directly onto American families are not acceptable,” he wrote in the letter, which went to Exxon Mobil Corp., BP and Shell, among others.
“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,” Biden said, noting he had already invoked his emergency powers in other ways.
That’s all well and good, but the President doesn’t really specify what the government would do to enforce this. That’s probably because there isn’t much that can be done.
During the pandemic, when energy consumption dropped precipitously, companies took some of their capacity to refine oil into gasoline offline. Biden told them it’s time to bring that production back.
Biden said he directed his energy secretary to convene an emergency meeting with oil companies in coming days. “I request that you provide the secretary with an explanation of any reduction in your refining capacity since 2020 and any concrete ideas that would address the immediate inventory, price, and refining capacity issues in the coming months — including transportation measures to get refined product to market,” he said.
Again, there is very little the U.S. government can do to stop greedy oil companies from taking advantage of the situation. That being said, Biden and the Democrats are still worried voters will blame them (they certainly will) for the high prices, according to NPR.
Because of that, the administration is turning up the heat. Last week, the President gave a speech at the Port of Los Angeles where he said, “Exxon made more money than God this year.”