A senior Biden administration official has asked the head of the Federal Trade Commission to look into the possibility of price gouging and other illicit practices that could swell gasoline prices.
The director of the National Economic Council, Brian Deese, has approached FTC head Lina Khan with a request to “monitor the U.S. gasoline market and address any illegal conduct that might be contributing to price increases for consumers at the pump,” as quoted by the AP, which notes the administration could advise the FTC but not instruct it to act in a certain way.
“I want to make sure that nothing stands in the way of oil price declines leading to lower gas prices for consumers,” President Biden said separately, after acknowledging that current prices at the pump are becoming problematic for poorer families, even though the official stance of the White House is that the United States is “not at an historically high gas price moment”.
However, “Recently, we’ve seen the price that oil companies pay for a barrel of oil begin to fall, but the cost of gasoline at the pump for more American people hasn’t fallen. That’s not what you’d expect in a competitive market,” Biden also said.
Because of the rising prices of gasoline, the White House also reached out to OPEC+, asking the cartel to add more than the 400,000 bpd it plans to add this month to its total production in what is a somewhat surprising move for an administration with a firmly green energy agenda.
“The production cuts made during the pandemic should be reversed as the global economy recovers in order to lower prices for consumers,” President Biden also said in his statement.
Higher gasoline prices come amid higher overall inflation in the U.S., brought about by government stimulus and the release of pent-up demand after the lockdowns.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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