(NewsNation) — President Joe Biden, in a letter to several oil refiners, called on them to produce more gasoline and diesel, saying their profits have tripled during a time of war between Russia and Ukraine as Americans struggle with record-high prices at the pump.
“The crunch that families are facing deserves immediate action,” Biden wrote in a letter to seven oil refiners. “Your companies need to work with my administration to bring forward concrete, near-term solutions that address the crisis.”
Nationwide, gas prices are averaging about $5 a gallon, according to AAA, causing economic burdens for many Americans. This, combined with record-high inflation, could prove a political threat for the president’s fellow Democrats going into the midterm elections.
Biden has previously placed the blame on big oil refiners for exploiting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to price gouge, previously saying ExxonnMobil made “more money than God” this year.
“The price of oil globally is about $120 a barrel and the last time it was that price globally we were paying $4.25 at the pump — we’re now paying about $5 dollars a gallon at the pump,” Bharat Ramamurti, deputy director of the National Economic Council, said.
The White House and others say that 75 cent difference is going to the refiners, who are making historically high profit margins.
“They’re not using the excess profits to reinvest in production, they’re using them for stock buybacks,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said.
But Republicans put the blame on Biden’s promise to shift away from fossil fuels, while focusing on climate goals. The president has said he wants to slash greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.
Because of the Biden administration’s plans to pivot from fossil fuels, people don’t think oil will even be used in the future, so people are discouraged from opening new oil refineries, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., argued.
Frank Macchiarola of the American Petroleum Institute wants the administration to encourage more oil and gas drilling in America, instead of asking overseas supplies to produce more.
“We ought to be producing more American energy right here . It’s under our feet it’s ready to go,” he said.
Biden has said he wants an emergency meeting between oil companies and his administration to figure out a way to lower costs. But if they don’t comply, the president said there will be emergency action in the “near term.”