MICHIGAN, USA — When you get in your car for that holiday travel, you'll find gas prices are nothing to celebrate.
This afternoon, the White House urged an the Federal Trade Commission to initiate an investigation into accusations of price gouging.
While the price of gas locally has ticked down, nationally, its inched up a bit this week.
The cost has some, including the president, questioning whether the gas companies themselves may be to blame while critics point the finger directly at the White House.
- Does the president control the price of gas?
- Are the gas companies themselves driving prices higher?
- The Official White House Twitter account
- US Energy Information Administration
- Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for Gas Buddy
No, the president doesn’t directly control what you pay at the pump.
With regard to claims Biden ended so-called US energy independence, that’s also false.
Is there any evidence to suggest gas companies may be engaging in price gouging? The experts say no, but until the FTC responds to a request from the Biden Administration, we’ll have to give that an ‘unclear’ for now.
WHAT WE FOUND:
“As Americans, whenever we see high gas prices, this is just an expected sign,” DeHaan said. “The problem is that there’s been volatility in the price of oil.”
A line graph from the U.S. Energy Information Administration recorded peaks under each of the last four presidents, sending fuel prices on a roller-coaster ride that’s seen them hovering near or blowing past the $3 per gallon mark. no matter who was commander-in-chief at the time.
“This is a global phenomenon,” DeHaan said of the current surge. “I just traveled to South America, and they're paying even more than we are. Prices in areas of Brazil were over $5 a gallon. I was talking to our driver in Brazil and they're blaming their own president. So, it seems it seems very common that the result of high oil prices, everyone's blaming their president.”
And what about claims it’s because the Biden Administration tapped the brakes on U.S. energy independence?
Critical statuses, tweets and memes abound on social media as the sticker shock deepens nationwide.
While Biden did famously end construction on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline and curb new leases on federal land soon after entering the Oval Office, is there any truth to the idea that’s what’s driving the current sky high price point?
“It’s the nation’s biggest fiction,” DeHaan explained. “The U.S. has continued to import millions of barrels of oil every day, even last year, even when President Trump was in the White House and he self-declared us energy independent… the U.S. is still the world’s largest oil producer… it’s not going to come close to the fact that OPEC controls 33 million barrels.”
So, are gas companies at home and abroad themselves pulling the strings and taking advantage?
In a letter to the chair of the Federal Trade Commission in which he urged an investigation into such accusations, Biden referred to “mounting evidence of anti-consumer behavior.”
“It was COVID… demand plummeted 60-percent,” DeHaan relayed, minimizing the possibility of any foul play. “That pushed oil prices negative. If, suddenly, nobody wanted an iPhone, Apple doesn’t just continue producing millions of iPhones. They stop production. That’s what oil companies did… they’ve only slowly been increasing now as demand has started to rebound.”
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