Biden, Chevron chief trade sharp words on gas prices


“He’s light sensitive,” Biden said. “I had no idea they hurt their feelings so quickly.”

President Joe Biden speaks about newly approved COVID-19 vaccines for children under 5, Tuesday, June 21, 2022, from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Chevron’s chief on Tuesday pointed to a complaint that President Joe Biden has denigrated energy firms at a time when gasoline prices are at record levels and the president responded that the oil company’s CEO was being done “mildly”. Sensitive.”

In recent weeks the president has criticized oil producers and refiners for maximizing profits and making “more money from God”, rather than increasing production in response to higher prices as the economy recovers from the pandemic and on Ukraine. Feels the effects of Russian invasion.

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Chevron chairman and CEO Michael Wirth sent a letter to Biden via email on Tuesday, saying the president’s own words were self-defeating in encouraging companies to ramp up their production.

Chevron is investing in more production, Wirth wrote, but “your administration has sought to largely criticize and condemn our industry at times. These actions are not beneficial to the challenges we face.” And the American people don’t deserve it.”

The CEO of the oil company said that he wants a more cooperative relationship with the government.

“Let’s work together,” wrote Wirth. “The American people rightly expect our nation’s leaders and industry to address the challenges they are facing in a serious and resolute manner.”

When asked about those comments, Biden showed no sympathy.

“He’s light sensitive,” Biden said. “I didn’t know their feelings get hurt so quickly. Look, we need more solvency. The idea that they don’t have oil to drill and fetch is simply not true. ,

Average gas prices are about $5 a gallon nationwide, under pressure on commuters and a political albatross for Biden’s fellow Democrats to go into the midterm election. This has left the White House scrambling for solutions, including a possible suspension of the 18.4 cents per gallon federal gas tax. Biden plans to decide by the end of the week whether the tax should be suspended, a move meant to relieve price pressure and that would require approval from a reluctant Congress.

The gas tax funds highways, but Biden said Tuesday that any lost revenue due to last year’s $1 trillion infrastructure legislation will not have a major impact on road construction.

The conflict between the Biden administration and oil producers and refiners came ahead of Thursday’s meeting that Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm would hold with the energy companies.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell have both previously expressed skepticism about the benefits of suspending the gas tax. But Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., is sponsoring a bill that would stop the gas tax by the end of 2023.

Schiff said in a statement that he is in contact with the White House to encourage the gas tax holiday, saying, “But we shouldn’t stop there. We must also hold Big Oil accountable for the price hike, which was the first.” Raising the prices in the bar.

The House has approved legislation to crack down on alleged price fixing by oil companies, but the bill has stalled in the Senate. Democratic proposals to impose an “unforeseen gain” tax on oil producers have generated little support in Congress.

The prospect of a gas tax holiday has drawn criticism from economists and the business community for not correcting the underlying supply challenges.

Target CEO Brian Cornell, a non-profit, nonpartisan business group, on Tuesday at the Economic Club of New York, called the gas tax holiday a temporary “mini stimulus” that does nothing to fundamentally alter the supply and demand curve. does. fuel and transportation.

“We have a classic supply and demand challenge,” Cornell told the audience. “On the whole, the gas discharge is going only for fuel demand. It is doing nothing to increase supply.”

Harvard University professor Jason Furman, formerly the top economist at the Obama White House, said the gas tax suspension would not address supply pressures.

“Refineries are now even more constrained so supplies are almost completely inelastic,” he wrote on Twitter. “Most of the 18.4 percent reduction will be done by industry — perhaps a few cents passed on to consumers.”

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that the administration was exploring as many ways as possible to provide some relief to consumers at the gas pump. But the administration doesn’t plan to ask Americans to drive less during the July 4th holiday and ease some of the supply pressures.

“Americans are going to do what they think is right for themselves and their families,” said Jean-Pierre. “It’s not something for us to decide.”

AP journalists Matthew Daly in Washington and Anne D’Innocenzio in New York contributed to this report.

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