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Big Oil executives are facing off against Congress today at a hearing called by the House Energy and Commerce Committee in light of stubbornly high retail fuel prices.
The Wall Street Journal reports the committee, led by Democrats, will accuse the oil industry of taking advantage of the oil price situation to boost their profits at the expense of American drivers.
"We will not sit back and allow the fossil-fuel industry to take advantage of the American people and gouge them at the pump," the WSJ quoted Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette as saying ahead of the hearing.
Senator Joe Manchin advised the corporate executives to have their "game on" and be prepared to answer questions about their profits. "I just pray to God they don't come here on corporate jets," Sen. Manchin also said, as quoted by Bloomberg, adding they'd better walk or hike because "that will be the first question that's asked."
The House hearing, announced last month and titled "Gouged at the Gas Station: Big Oil and America's Pain at the Pump," will feature the CEOs of Chevron, Devon Energy Corp, Exxon, and Pioneer Natural Resources. Also among those summoned is the head of Shell's U.S. operations and the chairman of BP America, according to a Reuters report from end-March.
Accusations of price-gauging on the part of oil companies have been circulating in U.S. legislative circles for months now. Senator Elizabeth Warren has been among the most vocal accusers. Earlier this year, she was among the sponsors of a bill proposing a windfall tax on oil companies for all the additional income they have made since oil prices started climbing.
Republicans, on the other hand, are blaming Democrat energy policies for drivers' pain at the pump.
"The Democrats want to change that narrative, but I don't think they'll be successful," Republican Rep. Morgan Griffith said, as quoted by the WSJ. "The Biden policies have created additional stress at a stressful time."
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com