Pain at the Pump: Biden Calls for Probe into High Gas Prices 

In Summary

The average cost of gas has been skyrocketing, leading President Joe Biden to spearhead an investigation into possibly illegal activity.  

President Joe Biden has called on the Federal Trade Commission to explore possible “illegal conduct” due to surging gas prices across the United States.  

According to GasBuddy, the average cost for regular gas nationwide is about $3.36 per gallon. Gas prices hovered around $2.16 a gallon for regular gas this time last year.  

“The bottom line is this: gasoline prices at the pump remain high, even though oil and gas companies’ costs are declining. The Federal Trade Commission has authority to consider whether illegal conduct is costing families at the pump. I believe you should do so immediately,” Biden wrote in a letter to FTC Chair Lina Khan.  

Biden’s administration asked the Federal Trade Commission to watch the gasoline market for any clue of illegal activity earlier in the year. This led the FTC to increase their oversight on merging oil companies, resulting in fewer options for consumers.  

Related: Colonial Pipeline Shutdown Fuels Panic Buying, Empty Gas Stations  

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said the consumption of gas fell to 338 million gallons per day last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the administration, if this fluctuation in gas consumption was accounted for, the difference would be nearly $614 million.  

“The unexplained large gap between the price of unfinished gasoline and the average price at the pump is well above the pre-pandemic average,” Biden wrote. “Meanwhile, the largest oil and gas companies in America are generating significant profits off higher energy prices. I do not accept hard working Americans are paying more for gas because of anti-competitive or otherwise potentially illegal conduct. I therefore ask the commission to further examine what is happening with oil and gas markets, and that you bring all the commission’s tools to bear if you uncover any wrongdoing.”  

Related: Senator Seeks Probe of Natural Gas Price Spikes During Storm  

The probe initiated by Biden ignited the American Petroleum Institute, which placed the blame on Biden, citing bad administration policy decisions.  

“This is a distraction from the fundamental market shift that is taking place and the ill-advised government decisions that are exacerbating this challenging situation,” said Frank Macchiarola. “Demand has returned as the economy comes back and is outpacing supply.” 

The launched probe by Biden will not result in immediate lower gas prices. 

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