With gas prices soaring, Biden calls for investigation into possible “illegal behavior”

President Joe Biden on Wednesday asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether “illegal behavior” is to blame for soaring gasoline prices that have hurt Americans’ wallets.

Fuel prices average over $ 3.40 per gallon, according to to the American Automotive Association, which predicts that more than 48 million Americans will likely hit the road next week for Thanksgiving celebrations.

“The result is this: Gasoline prices at the pump remain high, even as costs for oil and gas companies are falling. The Federal Trade Commission has the power to review whether illegal driving is costing families at the pump. I think you should do it. immediately, ”Biden wrote in a letter to FTC President Lina Khan.

High gas prices can pose a big political problem for president as new ABC News / Washington Post survey shows that 70% of the people questioned evaluate the economy negatively, including 38% who say that it is in “bad” condition. About half of Americans in general and politicians blame Biden for the rapid rise in inflation.

The administration previously asked the commission to monitor the gasoline market for any illegal behavior earlier this year, which led the FTC to increase its oversight of oil company mergers that result in less ‘options for consumers.

Biden argues that the calculations do not match when it comes to prices, noting that while the price of unfinished gasoline (for example, before the addition of ethanol and other liquids) has fallen by more than 5% over the past month, prices at the pump are up 3%. Usually, the prices of unfinished gasoline correlate with what is used to fill the tanks of cars, he said.

“The large unexplained gap between the price of unfinished gasoline and the average price at the pump is well above the pre-pandemic average. Meanwhile, America’s largest oil and gas companies are generating revenues. large profits from rising energy prices, ”Biden wrote.

“I do not accept that hard-working Americans pay more for gas because of anti-competitive or potentially illegal behavior. I therefore ask the committee to further examine what is happening with the oil markets and gas, and that you bring all the tools of the commission to bear if you discover a wrongdoing, ”he added.

Biden’s call for a catheter shouldn’t lead to immediate relief at the pump.

The move prompted a rapid retreat from the American Petroleum Institute, an industry group, which argued that poor policy decisions by the administration, coupled with a market shift, caused prices to skyrocket.

“It is a distraction from the fundamental market shift underway and the ill-advised government decisions that are making this predicament worse. Demand has returned as the economy recovers and exceeds supply,” said Frank Macchiarola, vice-president. – senior president of API. political, economic and regulatory affairs.

“Rather than launching investigations into regulated and closely watched markets on a daily basis or advocating with OPEC to increase supply, we should encourage the safe and responsible development of US-made oil and natural gas,” he said. he added.

The administration has been under pressure in recent weeks over how Biden plans to deal with soaring fuel costs Americans feel at the pumps, with many wondering particularly if he plans to tap into the strategic oil reserve. to alleviate some of the price hike.

The administration has remained largely silent on the details, arguing that there is instead a range of options it is considering to address the issue.

“The message to the Americans is that we are not only monitoring the situation closely and directly, which we have of course done, but that we are examining all the tools in our arsenal,” Psaki told reporters on Nov. 12. The president is quite focused on this, as is the economics team. “

Biden’s letter arrived as he traveled to a General Motors plant in Detroit, Michigan on Wednesday to push electric cars and tout billions of dollars in new infrastructure law for charging stations at across the country.

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