Desperate to shift blame for the rising gasoline prices his policies have caused, Joe Biden ordered the Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday to investigate specious claims that gas marketers and refiners have engaged in anti-competitive practices. Tim Stewart, President of the U.S. Oil & Gas Association, issued the following response.
Keep On Flailing Away…
November 17, 2021
The White House continues to complain about the high price of gasoline and at the same time take actions to increase the cost of gasoline. To say they are being “dishonest” is a putting it too nicely.
Today, the President asked the Federal Trade Commission to look into alleged anti-competitive behavior from oil and gas companies. This is amazing for the sheer chutzpah and dishonesty.
As we have noted before, allegations of anti-competitive behavior and market manipulation is nothing new in oil and gas markets. It is well studied by the FTC. In fact, over the past 20 years, the FTC has issued nearly 50 reports on the subject. If there were problems, the FTC would have found it a long time ago.
But for sake of argument, let’s assume President Biden’s letter to the FTC is correct and nefarious gasoline marketers have artificially inflated the price of gasoline by 8 percent. The reality is that nobody would be complaining about the price of gasoline if it were only 8 percent higher. They are complaining because the price of gasoline is up 43 percent since Inauguration Day ($3.41 a gallon today versus $2.39 a gallon on Inauguration Day).
But it gets worse when we look at the price of crude oil because WTI is up 48 percent since Inauguration Day ($79.87 versus $53.98). In other words, the price of gasoline is up less than the price of benchmark crude in the U.S., but the President is still asking the FTC to investigate. This is absurd.
The President needs to level with the American people. The problem with gas prices is his own policies. Global demand is increasing, and that is important, but the United States is the world’s largest oil producer. We can produce more, if the government would get out of the way.
But the Biden Administration wants to stand in the way of additional production. For example, just today a story in the trade publication E&E News explains why. It quotes Department of Interior Deputy Secretary Tommy Beaudreau as saying they are working to “fundamentally reform the Interior Department’s oil and gas program.” E&E News also says that “Beaudreau noted several specific policy changes that are being considered and spoke favorably of raising royalty rates, as well as launching new rules around valuation of fossil fuels to limit how royalties are whittled down through exclusions and write-offs.”
Yet again, the actions of the Biden Administration are designed to increase the price of oil and gasoline. At the same time, they complain when the unavoidable and foreseeable outcomes occur. The good news is that people aren’t buying it. That’s why Biden “I Did That!” stickers are popular.