Oil companies have a “patriotic duty” to help lower gas prices, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre proclaimed Wednesday as Americans continue to grapple with record breaking fuel costs.
With the average gallon of gas above $5 nationwide, Jean-Pierre called out oil companies following a scathing letter President Joe Biden sent to top industry executives.
“We see it as a patriotic duty, as we’re — as we are — as we’ve talked about,” Jean-Pierre said during Wednesday’s press briefing. “There’s war happening right now in Ukraine that was caused by — caused by Russia, which is why we’re seeing these hikes in gas prices.
“We are calling on them to do the right thing, to be patriots here, and not to use the war as an excuse or as a — as a reason to not put — to not put out a production, not — to not do the capacity that is needed out there so that the prices can — so that the prices can come down.”
“So, we know where to put the blame: on the war,” she went on to say. “But oil companies, they have — oil refineries, they have a responsibility too. What they have been doing is taking advantage of the war.”
Prior to Jean-Pierre’s stinging comments, Biden sent a letter to Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Shell, Philipps 66, BP, Marathon and Valero urging the companies to work with his administration to expand capacity to produce more and bring down gas prices.
“My administration is prepared to use all reasonable and appropriate Federal Government tools and emergency authorities to increase refinery capacity and output in the near term, and to ensure that every region of this country is appropriately supplied,” Biden warned in a letter to Exxon Mobil.
Jean-Pierre, who like Biden, labels the sharp increase as “Putin’s price hike” noted the White House is releasing a record 1 million barrels of oil daily from the country’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve, among taking other actions.
“In a time of global crisis, oil companies should be doing everything they can to expand capacity and lower costs at the pump,” Jean-Pierre said. “Instead, they are charging record profits at the expense of American families. The last time the price of crude oil was $120 a barrel, the price of gas was $4.25 cents a gallon. Today, it’s about 75 cents higher.
“They are using this moment — using this moment of war where the American — where American families are feeling — are feeling the high costs with food and gas. I mean, that is not a patriotic thing to do,” Jean-Pierre said.
New York drivers, on average, were paying $5.04 per gallon while drivers in the five boroughs were all paying north of $5.17 as the country faces record high inflation.
The American Petroleum Institute criticized the president Wednesday, saying “the administration’s misguided policy agenda shifting away from domestic oil and natural gas has compounded inflationary pressures and added headwinds to companies’ daily efforts to meet growing energy needs while reducing emissions.”
While Biden is pleading for higher refinery capacity, the US energy Information Administration on Friday estimated “refinery utilization will reach a monthly average level of 96% twice this summer, near the upper limits of what refiners can consistently maintain.”
Most refineries process oil imported from overseas instead of produced stateside.
The oil cost spike can be attributed to both increasing demand as the COVID-19 pandemic wanes and the global supply chain disruption caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and subsequent Western-imposed sanctions.
With Post wires