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

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

Nicholas Cam | AFP | Getty Images

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

In a letter to President Lina Khan Tuesday, Biden said there was “increasing evidence of anti-consumer behavior by oil and gas companies.” The letter indicated that prices at the pump remained high despite the drop in the price of incomplete gasoline. “This large, unexplained gap between the price of uncut 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 US oil and gas companies” — Exxon and Chevron based on market capitalization — are on the path to nearly doubling their net income from 2019 levels, while the two companies also announced share buybacks and dividend increases.

Biden’s latest request comes as the administration attempts to cool rising gas prices and their contribution to inflation across the economy. In August, the administration called on OPEC to increase oil production and also asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate price gouging at the pump.

The administration has repeatedly said it is studying the tools at its disposal to relieve some of the burden on consumers, which could include wiretapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

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